Authorities were shocked to find a secret cross-border drug tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego.
The tunnel, which begins near Tijuana’s A.L. Rodríguez International Airport, was found thanks to an anonymous tip to Mexican soldiers and police. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that approximately five tons of marijuana are believed to be inside.
Mexican authorities are still waiting on an official warrant to enter the structure, so many details, including the tunnel's length, are not yet clear. When peering into the inside of the tunnel, police found what appeared to be tons of marijuana wrapped in rectangular plastic packages.
Police found the entrance to the tunnel inside an ice-making business only 330 yards from the U.S. border fence, according to the Union-Tribune. Homeland Security officials confirmed that a tunnel was found in the San Diego area, but said in a statement that they would not release its exact location "in order to ensure the integrity of the ongoing investigation."
The New York Times reports that 75 cross-border drug tunnels have been discovered mostly in California and Arizona. The largest one to-date was found six months ago in Otay Mesa, Mexico. The tunnel spanned half a mile and was highly sophisticated, equipped with lights, a ventilation system, and even an elevator.
"They keep finding tunnels, they keep getting bigger and longer and more sophisticated," David A. Shirk, an associate professor of political science at the University of San Diego, told the Times. "It just seems like we haven’t reduced the capacity of people to make tunnels. I think this is a problem we have to manage, not a problem we can actually solve."
The tunnels are primarily used to smuggle contraband drugs across the border. So far, there have been no known incidents these tunnels being used to move terrorists or illegal immigrants into the country.
"A package of cocaine or heroin is much easier to move and hide than a person, and the profit it represents is far greater," said Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "Working with terrorists would bring a huge amount [of] heat on the cartels, and that’s bad for business."