Authorization

Big cross-border tunnel found linking Tijuana, San Diego

U.S. authorities on Monday announced the discovery of an underground smuggling tunnel on Mexico's border, running the length of a football field on U.S. soil to a warehouse in an industrial area.
Investigators discovered the tunnel last week about half a mile (0.8 km) from the Otay Mesa border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, in an area where more than a dozen others have been discovered in the past two decades.
After staking out a home that had recently been used as drug stash house, agents began making traffic stops of vehicles that had been there or at a warehouse near the border, turning up boxes full of cocaine, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego.
They raided the properties — finding no other drugs at the warehouse, but a tunnel opening carved into the cement floor, federal prosecutors said.
Like many such tunnels, it had reinforced walls, electricity, ventilation and a rail system. It ran one-third of a mile (532 m) to Tijuana. It was 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and about six stories deep.
Agents seized 1,762 pounds (799 kg) of cocaine, 165 pounds (75 kg) of meth and 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) of heroin from the vehicles and the residence, and they arrested six people on federal drug conspiracy charges.
The cross-border tunnel was built in one of the most fortified stretches of the border, illustrating the limitations of former President Donald Trump’s border wall. While considered effective against small, crudely built tunnels called “gopher holes,” walls are no match for more sophisticated passages that run deeper underground.
Authorities have found about 15 sophisticated tunnels on California’s border with Mexico since 2006.
Many tunnels, including the one announced Monday, are in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial area, where clay-like soil is conducive to digging and warehouses provide cover.
The cross-border passages date back to the early 1990s and have been used primarily to smuggle multi-ton loads of marijuana. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in 2020 that they are generally found in California and Arizona and associated with Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.
By federal law, U.S. authorities must fill the U.S. side of tunnels with concrete after they are discovered.


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