A drug tunnel longer than eight football fields was discovered Friday snaking its way between California and Mexico. The discovery on April 15 was the longest cross-border drug tunnel to date, reports ABC News. The 874-yard tunnel starts in a tiny home in Tijuana and ends at a wooden pallet storage facility just east of San Diego. Drug officials found seven tons of marijuana and more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine.
Authorities believe that the house was built for the sole purpose of providing a way to smuggle drugs from Tijuana to San Diego. A woman told KFMB TV in San Diego that Mexican agents raided her home in Tijuana thinking there was a tunnel. They have been guarding a neighbor’s home since Monday, she told them. This is the third drug tunnel found on that street since March, and the 13th since 2006. Dope smugglers seem to favor that particular street because it runs parallel to the border fence. On the other side of that fence is a densely populated residential area, and both sides have plenty of industrial businesses that justify the use of trucks and heavy equipment.
Authorities consider this particular drug bust to be a sophisticated operation. The villa had a freight elevator and rail system that led to a lot in San Diego, the opening concealed with a large trash dumpster. The tunnel was approximately three feet wide and equipped with lighting and ventilation. The freight elevator was large enough to hold eight to 10 people and was hidden in a closet.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Laura Duffy, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California seemed impressed with the complex nuances of the operation.
“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.”
The way the tunnel was structured is just one of the abnormalities of the operation. According to Duffy, the size and location of the tunnel opening, and what was stored at the wooden pallet company, were all out of the ordinary. Drug tunnels are normally built for stashing marijuana because of the smell and size. Reportedly, it is highly unusual to use one to transport and store cocaine. Also, the fact that the tunnel ended at a business instead of a house or a warehouse is out of the norm.
No one seems to know when the tunnel was completed or how many loads have gotten through since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started monitoring the business. The wooden pallet company, located on Macaroni Drive and thought to have been open for about a year, came under the Border Patrol’s radar when agents became suspicious, noticing abnormally heavy traffic at the business.
After authorities noticed a forklift transport the dumpster from the pallet business to a parking lot in San Diego on April 13, they stepped in and stopped another truck as it left the lot on April 18 and found 2,240 pounds of cocaine, as well as 11,030 pounds of marijuana. Additional marijuana found in the tunnel brought the marijuana haul to seven tons.
Six people unrelated to this drug tunnel discovery were arrested in San Diego on Friday including a U.S. citizen, three Mexicans, and two Cubans, all legally allowed to be in the country. Drug tunnels are prevalent in this area because the soil is easy to dig. Another drug tunnel was found on Friday, in addition to the Otay Mesa bust near Calexico by El Centro Sector Border Patrol, reports Fox 5.
[AP Photo/Fernando Vergara]