Tonnes of drugs and a half-mile-long US-Mexico tunnel found

Apr 22, 2016, 07:51 IST | Agencies

San Diego: US authorities have said that they discovered a cross-border tunnel that ran a half-mile from a Tijuana house equipped with a large elevator to a lot in San Diego that was advertised as a wooden pallet business, resulting in seizures of more than a ton of cocaine and seven tonnes of marijuana.

A cross-border tunnel discovered in Otay Mesa, California, between the US and Mexico. Pic/AFP

It was the 13th sophisticated secret passage found along California's border with Mexico since 2006, including three on the same short street in San Diego that runs parallel to a border fence with a densely populated residential area on the Mexican side.

The unusually narrow tunnel was only about three-feet wide, equipped with a rail system, lighting and ventilation. The tunnel was unusual because it was used for cocaine, not just marijuana, said Laura Duffy, US attorney for the Southern District of California yesterday.

Tunnels are often built for marijuana because its bulk and odour make it more difficult to escape border inspectors' scrutiny than cocaine and other drugs.

The elevator, which was big enough for eight to 10 people, was located in the closet of a Tijuana house whose floors were strewn with mattresses, Duffy said. The tunnel zig-zagged for 874 yards to the fenced commercial lot in San Diego, where the exit was covered by a large trash bin.

Other tunnels that have ended in California were inside houses and warehouses. "It's a rabbit hole," Duffy said. "Just the whole way that it comes up and that it comes up out right into the open, is a bit ingenious, I think, and it's something completely different than what we've seen."

Six people were arrested in the San Diego on drug and tunnel related crimes, including one US citizen, two Cubans who were granted asylum and three Mexicans who were legally entitled to be in the country.

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