Society

Half-Mile-Long Drug-Smuggling Tunnel Found (Photos)

| by Reve Fisher
Several tons of marijuana and cocaineSeveral tons of marijuana and cocaine

A drug-smuggling tunnel has been discovered that spans about 2,600 feet between Mexico and California, which is believed to be the longest cross-border tunnel in history.

The tunnel begins approximately 900 feet from a house in Tijuana, Mexico, and ends in a fenced-off industrial area in Otay Mesa, San Diego, California, according to KTRK. This region is popular for such tunnels because the soil is easy to dig and both sides of the border have several warehouses that offer concealment for large equipment and trucks, as reported by KABC.

Rail, light, and ventilation systems were installed throughout the tunnel, in addition to a commercial elevator that connected the tunnel to a closet at the Tijuana residence. The opening of the tunnel in California consists of an unusually narrow three-foot-wide hole that was previously hidden by an industrial dumpster, according to federal authorities.

"It's a rabbit hole," said Laura Duffy, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. "Just the whole way that it comes up and that it comes up out right into the open, it is a bit ingenious, I think, and it's something completely different than what we've seen."

Investigators started monitoring the San Diego lot last year because Border Patrol agents noticed heavy traffic. On April 13, authorities saw a dumpster loaded onto a truck using a forklift and followed it to a parking lot. A couple days later, San Diego County sheriff’s deputies halted a truck after it left the lot, and managed to confiscate 2,240 pounds of cocaine and 11,030 pounds of marijuana. More marijuana was found in the tunnel.

In total, about 14,000 pounds of marijuana and 2,240 pounds of cocaine were discovered. According to ABC, tunnels are typically constructed for marijuana because its odor and bulk make it more of a challenge to escape border inspection than cocaine and other drugs.

Six suspects were arrested in connection to the discovery: Martiniano Garcia-Sedano, Cruz Armando Parra Corrales, Alejandro Bravo, Juan Carlos Chavez Fabian, Alejandro Gomez-Baez and Osmel Martinez. All of the suspects were legally allowed to reside in the United States.

More than 75 cross-border drug-smuggling tunnels have been discovered in the past five years, most of which were located in California and Arizona. According to the U.S. attorney’s office, this is the 13th large-scale operational drug transporting tunnel that has been discovered around the California border since 2006. 

Sources: KABC, ABC / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Justice via KABC

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