A sophisticated cross-border tunnel was located Tuesday that connected Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego. Investigators explained the tunnel netted more than 32 tons of marijuana and six arrests.
The 612-yard elaborate passageway consisted of ventilation, electric rail-like cars, electricity, reinforced walls and wooden floors.
The tunnel’s Tijuana entrance was accessed by a hydraulically-controlled steel door and an elevator located beneath the storehouse floor.
The discovery of the drug smuggling tunnel came after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) followed a tractor trailer loaded with drugs to Los Angeles. CBP agents alerted San Diego authorities once the driver and three other Hispanic individuals unloaded the contents into a nondescript warehouse.
Once U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) moved in, they took custody and seized approximately 11 tons of marijuana packed inside the truck's trailer. Federal agents said their actions resulted in the interdiction of more than 32 tons of marijuana with an estimated street value of nearly $65 million.
The tunnel task force said they were confident the passageway was recently open.
"From the conditions inside the passageway and our ongoing investigation, we're confident we've been able to shut this operation down before the perpetrators were able to use it for smuggling narcotics," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in San Diego. "It's clear though, from the level of sophistication involved, that the criminal organization responsible for constructing this tunnel had very ambitious plans."
Staying one-step ahead of the drug-cartels tunneling tactics is the result of the multi-agency task force that focuses solely on drug and human smuggling along the southwest border.
"This is yet again an example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies join forces to address a common threat," said San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Paul A. Beeson. "It clearly demonstrates that the hard work of the men and women on this interagency taskforce can and will make a significant impact on the security of our nation."
"The Tunnel Task Force, working together with the Government of Mexico, is putting a stranglehold on the cartels' ability to smuggle drugs into the United States," said William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge of the DEA in San Diego. "Seizing close to 50 tons of marijuana in one month denies the cartels the financial means to continue their operations."
The San Diego Tunnel Task Force consists of representatives from ICE HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.
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