Tunnel under U.S.-Mexico border trafficked in people, drugs

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The combined efforts by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Border Patrol have led to the discovery of a 2,400-foot (732 metre) tunnel between the United States and Mexico.

An investigation into a suspected drug smuggling operation in San Diego, California yielded tips which led to the discovery Tuesday by Mexican authorities of the nearly half mile long passage. The tunnel opens to the surface inside a small warehouse on the Mexican side of the border near the Tijuana airport. On the U.S. side, it surfaces inside a huge 48,222-square-foot (4480 m2) warehouse at Otay Mesa, a town located near a border checkpoint in the Baja area of California.

Bales of marijuana weighing nearly 2-tons were seized by Mexican agents from that side of the tunnel, while U.S. agents confiscated 200 pounds (91Kg) at the other end. There are no reports of arrests.

On Wednesday, a second tunnel was discovered this month in the San Diego area when a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle got stuck in a sinkhole. The ground collapsed from the weight of the vehicle. The crude and shallow tunnel was found in an unfinished condition near the San Ysidro border crossing. It originated from a vacant lot in Tijuana, and is the 21st tunnel to be found over the last four years.