‘Drug tunnel’ links US and Mexico
SAN DIEGO (AP) – A tunnel designed to smuggle drugs from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego is equipped with electricity, ventilation and a rail system, U.S. authorities said today, making it one of the more sophisticated secret passages discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Authorities seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine in connection with the discovery, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said. Three suspects were in U.S. custody.
The tunnel links warehouses in Tijuana and San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial area. The area is filled with nondescript warehouses, making it easier to conceal trucks being loaded with drugs.
The tunnel was found yesterday and completed only recently, ICE said. Authorities did not say exactly when it was built or whether drugs are believed to have gotten through undetected.
As U.S. border security has heightened on land, Mexican drug cartels have turned to ultralight aircraft, small fishing boats and tunnels. More than 75 underground passages have been discovered along the border since 2008, designed largely to smuggle marijuana.
The tunnels are concentrated along the border in California and Arizona. San Diego is popular because its clay-like soil is easy to dig. In Nogales, Arizona, smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.
The tunnel is the eighth major passage discovered in San Diego since 2006, a period during which Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has solidified its hold on the prized smuggling corridor. ICE said Wednesday’s tunnel was the first in the San Diego area that was found to be used for cocaine.
U.S. and Mexican authorities did not disclose the dimensions of the tunnel.