Second border drug tunnel found

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Eight people were arrested and more than 20 tons of marijuana were seized in connection with the discovery of the second drug- smuggling tunnel crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this month, federal authorities announced today.

The half-mile passageway linking two U.S. warehouses in Otay Mesa with a stucco residence in Tijuana was located Thursday morning by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force.

The Tijuana residence where the tunnel ended had a garage large enough to accommodate deliveries from tractor trailer trucks, authorities said.

This tunnel was outfitted with advanced rail, electrical and ventilation systems and was “more sophisticated” than the 600-yard-long tunnel linking warehouses in Otay Mesa and Tijuana discovered Nov. 2, according to the task force.

The task force found the tunnel after agents conducting surveillance in Otay Mesa noticed suspicious activity involving a truck leaving one of the warehouses.

The truck was kept under surveillance until it reached the Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol traffic checkpoint in Temecula. The truck was stopped and 27,600 pounds of marijuana were found in the trailer, authorities said.

“The discovery again shows the cartels' growing desperation in the face of beefed up border security and the costly extremes these organizations are trying in an effort to avoid detection,” said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.

An investigation of the tunnel is continuing.

The task force, formed seven years ago, includes agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Mexican military is also cooperating in the investigation.

“Yesterday's discovery is a true indicator that intelligence and operational collaboration within the law enforcement community is essential for effective border security,” said Paul Beeson, the chief patrol agent for the San Diego Border Patrol sector.

In the last four years, federal authorities have uncovered more than 75 U.S.-Mexico border drug-smuggling tunnels, according to the task force.

Categories: KUSI