US and Mexican police have unearthed a 700m-long drug tunnel under their border and seized more than 20 tonnes of marijuana, the second such major drugs bust this month.
At least eight people were arrested, including three in the US, in the joint action against the sophisticated tunnel between the Mexican border city of Tijuana and San Diego on the US side of the border.
“This discovery again shows the cartels’ growing desperation in the face of beefed up border security and the costly extremes these organizations are trying,” said investigation chief Miguel Unzueta on the US side.
The tunnel had two entrances on the US side, some 250m apart in the Otay Mesa industrial complex in southern San Diego, where another major tunnel was found three weeks ago, said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
The newly-discovered tunnel was more sophisticated than the last, and was equipped with “advanced rail, electrical and ventilation systems,” ICE said in a statement. US officials said the tunnel was discovered after ICE investigators became suspicious about a tractor trailer parked near an Otay Mesa warehouse.
When the vehicle left they followed it and when stopped more than 12,500kg of marijuana was found on board — exactly how they unearthed the tunnel earlier this month. The other end of the tunnel “emerged in Tijuana, Mexico, inside a stucco residence outfitted with a garage large enough to accommodate deliveries by tractor trailer truck,” it added.
US officials contacted the Mexican military, who discovered four tonnes of marijuana on a nearby ranch, while more than 2700kg of pot were then discovered in the tunnel itself, said the ICE statement. The tunnel was some 12 metres deep and passed under a business and a road leading to the border, said a Mexican army official.
US authorities said they had arrested the driver of the tractor trailer, and two other men in the Californian town of El Cajon. They said five other arrests were made in Mexico.
On November 4, US and Mexican police seized more than 30 tonnes of marijuana including 26 tonens in a record haul on the US side, which was smuggled through a tunnel 300m long, less than two streets away from the latest find.
The army also made Mexico’s largest ever haul of more than 134 tonnes of marijuana, in Tijuana in October. Authorities have this year unearthed around a dozen tunnels used for drug and immigrant smuggling in the area around the busiest crossing on the US-Mexico border.
Of this week’s find, ICE investigator Unzueta said: “Once again, we’ve thwarted their scheme and I predict you’ll see more such successes in the future.”