Fried chicken restaurant used as cover for narcotics operation reminiscent of hit TV show
Authorities in Arizona have uncovered a drug smuggling operation that was using a fried chicken restaurant as a cover to hide an underground tunnel running to Mexico.
Officials revealed on Wednesday that the infrastructure of a sophisticated drug organization shipping meth, cocaine, and heroin to the Arizona streets was hidden beneath the bleak exterior of a branch of KFC in the Southwest
The discovery is reminiscent of the hit TV show Breaking Bad, in which drug lord Gus Fring uses his chain of Los Pollos Hermanos fast food outlets as a front to smuggle meth from Mexico to New Mexico.
The tunnel was discovered by chance when police pulled over a drug dealer connected to the operation who a truck full of illegal substances.
Fox News reports:
Ivan Lopez, who previously ran a Kentucky Fried Chicken eatery in San Luis, Ariz., was arrested Aug. 13 when authorities pulled him over and discovered Lopez had stashed a slew of drugs in his truck, AZFamily.com reported.
A canine unit alerted cops to the drug-filled toolboxes in the vehicle.
“[Lopez had] over 118 kilograms of methamphetamine, over six kilograms of cocaine, over three kilograms of fentanyl, over 13 kilograms of white heroin and over six kilograms of brown heroin,” said Scott Brown, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent.
“Just the three kilograms of fentanyl translates to over 3 million dosage units.”
Agents executed a search warrant at Lopez’s house and restaurant in San Luis, where they found Lopez had turned the establishment into an alleged drug smuggling operation.
The restaurant had already been shut down at the time of the raid.
Video of the tunnel showed it was 22 feet deep and 590 feet long with wooden planks lining the wall.
The tunnel connected the abandoned San Luis KFC restaurant to a home in San Luis Rio Colorado in the state of Sonora, Mexico.
The tunnel opening in the building only measured 8 inches in diameter.
Authorities believe smugglers used ropes to bring drugs up from the tunnel.
It’s unclear how long the tunnel had been in operation.
Brown said Lopez was spotted prior to his arrest removing toolboxes from the old restaurant.
Homeland Security investigators and Yuma Border Patrol agents were investigating the incident.