Feds Find First Major Drug Tunnel Since 2020

It ran from Tijuana to San Diego warehouse
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2022 1:45 PM CDT
Feds Find First Major Drug Tunnel Since 2020
The opening of the cross-border tunnel is seen in a warehouse in San Diego on Monday, May 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat)

The legalization of marijuana in California hasn't put the cross-border tunnel builders in the San Diego area out of business, but the highly sophisticated tunnels are now being used for different drugs, federal authorities say. The latest tunnel to be detected ran 1,744 feet from a property in Tijuana to a warehouse in San Diego, the BBC reports. Like others of its kind, it had ventilation, electricity, and a rail track. Authorities say six people were arrested and 1,762 pounds of cocaine, 165 pounds of methamphetamine, and 3.5 pounds of heroin were seized.

The tunnel was 61 feet underground, far too deep to have been affected by the border fence. Previous tunnel raids in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial area—where the "clay-like soil is conducive to digging," per CBS—have yielded thousands of pounds of marijuana, but authorities have been finding larger loads of harder drugs since California legalized recreational pot in 2019. Investigators say they found the tunnel entrance in a warehouse 300 feet north of the border fence after following suspects from a residence previously used as a cocaine stash house.

"There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel," US Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. "We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities." Federal authorities say 27 other tunnels "considered sophisticated" have been found in the area since 1993, including a 2,000-foot tunnel found in March 2020. (A smuggling tunnel found in 2020 stretched for more than three-quarters of a mile.)

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