Feds Discover Elaborate Drug Tunnel and Seize 32 Tons of Pot

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The Drug Cartels have literally changed the face of Mexican Culture and the government has really gone to great lengths to fight back against the Mexican Drug Cartels.

This week, federal drug enforcement agents broke up a sophisticated Mexican drug smuggling operation that resulted in the seizure of 32 tons of marijuana. The smugglers used a tunnel to transport contraband from Tijuana to a warehouse in San Diego.  The tunnel, which passed beneath a runway at Tijuana International Airport, included a wooden floor and walls, an elevator, electric lights and a railway system that carried marijuana along a track that stretched for a third of a mile. The street value of the confiscated drugs is estimated to be $65 million, making the seizure one of the largest in U.S. history.

drug tunnel opening

In mid-November, authorities discovered another tunnel in the same area and seized 17 tons of marijuana. According to the Los Angeles Times, tunnels are increasingly being used by Mexican organized crime syndicates to circumvent border enforcement and send enormous shipments of drugs to the U.S.  Scores of tunnels have been uncovered in recent years in San Diego’s Otay Mesa, a light industrial area with many warehouses.  Last year more than 45 tons of marijuana was confiscated in the same vicinity.

The Sinaloa drug cartel, the most powerful crime organization in Mexico, has a history of constructing tunnels to be used for drug smuggling.  There has been a surge in recent years in marijuana production throughout Mexico, with increased production in Baja California attributed in large part to the Sinaloa group.  Since 2007, more than 75 cross-border smuggling operations have been discovered.

In this week’s case, investigators discovered the tunnel during a raid on a produce warehouse in San Diego.  The building had been under surveillance for several months and a search warrant was obtained after a truck that left the warehouse made a marijuana delivery to the City of Industry in Los Angeles County.  Six people in the U.S. were arrested, including two truck drivers, but no arrests were made on the Mexican side of the border.  When investigators followed the tunnel to Tijuana, they found that it led to a deserted building near the Tijuana airport.  U.S. officials believe that elaborate tunnel system had only recently become operational.

Laura Duffy, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego, believes that the increased use of tunnels for smuggling indicates that the U.S. border is successfully keeping smugglers out.  She expressed determination to make it more difficult for smugglers to construct and use tunnels for illegal operations.   According to Duffy, “If you build it, we will find it and when we find it, we will destroy it.”