US authorities announced Monday the discovery of a smuggling tunnel on the border with Mexico that is the length of a football field on the US side and leads to a warehouse in an industrial zone.
Last week, investigators discovered the tunnel about a half-mile (800 meters) from the Otay Mesa border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, in an area where more than a dozen other tunnels have been discovered in the past two decades. .
After surveilling a house that had recently been used as a drug depot, agents began stopping vehicles that had been there or at a depot near the border, finding boxes full of cocaine, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in Federal Court. of District of San Diego.
They searched the properties and found no other drugs in the warehouse, but did find an entrance to a tunnel dug into the concrete floor, federal prosecutors said.
Like many such tunnels, it had reinforced walls, electricity, ventilation, and a rail system. It stretched 532 meters (a third of a mile) to Tijuana. Its diameter was 1.2 meters (4 feet) and it was located about six stories deep.
Agents seized 799 kilograms (1,762 pounds) of cocaine, 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of methamphetamine and 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) of heroin from the vehicles and residence, and arrested six people on federal conspiracy charges. of drugs.
Construction of the tunnel took place on one of the most heavily armored stretches of the border, illustrating the limitations of former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Though considered effective against small, crudely constructed tunnels called “mole holes,” walls are not effective against more sophisticated passages that run deeper.
Authorities have found about 15 sophisticated tunnels on California’s border with Mexico since 2006.
Most of the tunnels, including the one announced Monday, are in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial zone, where clay-like soil makes digging easy and warehouses provide cover.
Cross-border tunnels date back to the 1990s and have been used primarily to smuggle tons of marijuana.
The DEA said in 2020 that the tunnels are often found in California and Arizona, and that they are linked to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
Under federal law, US authorities must cover the US side of the tunnels with concrete once they are discovered.