San Diego Tunnel Task Force uncovers sophisticated cross-border drug tunnel under the US/Mexico border
SAN DIEGO – Federal agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force uncovered a sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel on Thursday, March 19, which extends under the United States-Mexico border to a warehouse in a commercial complex in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego. The discovery of the tunnel resulted from an ongoing investigation by members on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force, which include U.S. Immigration and customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney’s Office.
Agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force developed information about a transnational criminal organization suspected of smuggling narcotics into the U.S. via a cross-border tunnel. As the investigation progressed, agents worked in cooperation with the Fiscalia General de la Republica (FGR) and Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) to locate the tunnel entrance in Mexico. Agents subsequently presented evidence to a U.S. federal judge and obtained a federal search warrant for the warehouse in Otay Mesa. The U.S. exit point was discovered subsequent to the execution of the warrant.
Agents seized approximately 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of fentanyl from the tunnel. The large seizure of mixed drugs represents the first time in San Diego’s history where five different types of drugs were found inside a tunnel. The total street value of the drugs seized from the tunnel is estimated at $29.6 million.
The tunnel extends for more than 2,000 feet underground from a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico to a warehouse in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego. The tunnel has an average depth of 31 feet and is three-feet wide through most of the passageway.
Agents estimate the tunnel has been in existence for several months due to the advanced construction observed in several portions of the passageway, which included reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting and an underground rail system.