Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested a 73-year-old woman they accuse of running an elaborate drug-smuggling operation. According to ICE, Glennys “Gladys” Rodriguez bankrolled an enterprise that used an underground tunnel to transport drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fox News reports that law enforcement officials had known about the operation for months and were closely watching a warehouse that hid the tunnel’s entrance. The tunnel was 600 yards long and originated in the warehouse, located in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego.
“Here we are again, foiling cartel plans to sneak millions of dollars of illegal drugs through secret passageways that cost millions of dollars to build,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Going underground is not a good business plan. We have promised to locate these super tunnels and keep powerful drug cartels from taking their business underground and out of sight, and once again, we have delivered on that promise.”
Although the name of Ignacio Ituarte was on the rental contract for the warehouse, officials believe that Rodriguez gave Ituarte $10,000 to lease the space and build the tunnel. Officials allege Rodriguez, who is Ituarte’s girlfriend, continued to fund the tunnel and the warehouse with monthly payments of $1,729.
This is not the first tunnel discovered in the area. In October, ABC News reported that federal officials shut down another elaborate tunnel in San Diego and confiscated eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine.
KTLA of Los Angeles estimated that the street value of those drugs topped $12 million.
The arrests are the result of hard work done by a joint task force made up of numerous law enforcement agencies.
Following last Tuesday’s discovery of Rodriguez’s operation, officials busted another tunnel on Thursday morning. That brought the total number of tunnel operations shut down by the “Tunnel Task Force” to seven in just four years.
“The discovery of these tunnels reaffirms yet again the vigilance and tenacity of our multi-agency task force,” said Derek Benner of Homeland Security Investigations in the Fox News story.
The U.S. Attorney's Office will prosecute Rodriguez.