SAN DIEGO — Federal agents discovered a sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnel running beneath the U.S.-Mexico border and connecting a building in Tijuana to a warehouse in Otay Mesa.
Investigators uncovered the tunnel on Thursday, March 19, as part of an investigation by a variety of agencies including Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA said in a news release Tuesday.
Authorities in the U.S. worked with law enforcement in Mexico to locate the tunnel entrance on the southern side of the border. Then agents tracked the tunnel from a Tijuana warehouse to the commercial complex in southern San Diego, the DEA explained.
Agents seized about 300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of fentanyl from the tunnel, according to DEA. The drugs have an estimated street value of $29.6 million.
The tunnel extends more than 2,000 feet at an average depth of 31 feet, the DEA discovered. Agents believe it was in use for several months, “due to the advanced construction observed in several portions of the passageway, which included reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting and an underground rail system.”
“Several months ago, agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force announced the seizure of the longest cross-border tunnel and today we announce the discovery of another sophisticated tunnel with large quantities of drugs seized from within,” DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery said. “These tunnels show the determination of drug-trafficking organizations to subvert our border controls and smuggle deadly drugs into our community.”
“If cartels keep spending millions of dollars building tunnels, we will keep finding and filling them,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “This time, we seized a jaw-dropping $30 million worth of dangerous drugs that aren’t going to reach the streets.”
Federal agents said the San Diego Sheriff’s Department provided significant support for the mission.
Anyone can anonymously report suspicious activity to the DEA’s Tunnel Task Force at 1-877-9TUNNEL 1-877-988-6635.