Large Cross-Border Drug Tunnel Discovered in San Diego

Posted: Apr 09, 2020 7:30 PM

On March 19, agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force discovered a large drug-smuggling tunnel connecting a warehouse in San Diego to a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico. Agents confiscated nearly $30 million worth of drugs found inside the tunnel.

According to a press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the tunnel's discovery was a result of an ongoing investigation by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force, comprised of agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S Border Patrol, the United State's Attorney's Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

(Via ICE)

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 more than 2,000 feet underground, with an average depth of 31 feet and a width of three feet throughout most of the passageway. Agents believe the tunnel has existed for several months based on the type of construction used in portions of the passageway, including an underground rail system, reinforced walls, and ventilation.

"If cartels keep spending millions of dollars building tunnels, we will keep finding and filling them," U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said in a statement. "This time, we seized a jaw-dropping $30 million worth of dangerous drugs that aren’t going to reach the streets. This is the most valuable single-day tunnel seizure in recent memory, and it is the largest seizure of multiple drugs in a single tunnel. This takedown is even more significant in the face of a global pandemic, where stopping the movement of unauthorized people and packages across international borders is of utmost importance."