U.S. authorities announced on Monday the discovery a massive, sophisticated tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border, connecting Tijuana to San Diego. Authorities believe the tunnel is used to traffic drugs into the U.S.
The 1,700-foot “fully operational” tunnel begins in Tijuana and leads to an industrial warehouse in San Diego, California. The warehouse is located near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
The tunnel has a “sophisticated” structural system. “It’s estimated to be about 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep, with a diameter of about 4 feet at its widest point,” said Randy Grossman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “It has reinforced walls, a rail system, and electricity for ventilation.”
Authorities seized $25 million worth of drugs from within the tunnel over the weekend. Among the drugs found were 1,762 pounds of cocaine, 165 pounds of meth, and 3.5 pounds of heroin, according to Fox News.
Border officials found the tunnel during a search for drugs in the area. They were surveilling a truck that was coming and going from the warehouse, picking up large boxes.
“In a span of a few hours, agents watched five vehicles come and go from the stash house and this warehouse, we allege that the defendants were driving into the garage and loading or dropping off cardboard boxes full of drugs to further the movement or distribution of drugs throughout the United States, the federal agents were watching the whole time,” Grossman said.
When law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle, they found it was carrying boxes of drugs. After raiding the warehouse, authorities found no other drugs. However, they did spot a tunnel opening carved onto the floor.
“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” Grossman said. “We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities.”
Six California residents, aged 21 to 55, were arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, meth, and heroin.
The tunnel is still under investigation. “Together with the Mexican government, we have been collaborating in trying to eradicate these tunnels, which should not exist because that is where a lot of crime happens, and a lot of the suffering that we see,” U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar told the news outlet Zeta. “This needs to stop.”
Authorities said that drug-smuggling tunnels are not uncommon. They are usually used by drug smugglers to evade authorities and transport a large quantity of drugs. More than 15 tunnels have been found since 2006, officials said.