Thursday, May 20, 2010
U.S Federal law enforcement authorities say people digging the suspected cross-border tunnel tapped into the storm drain system that runs beneath the International Wastewater Treatment Plant property, about a mile west of the San Ysidro border crossing. Its not clear if there is a U.S. exit.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack says her agency was tipped off last April that smugglers were using the drainpipe. She says agents surveyed the area.
Mack says the passageway starts inside a manhole near the border fence in TIjuana. She says people crawled in, went under the fence, through the drainage system, and tapped into pipes on the U.S. side of the border.
U.S. federal authorities ran a robot through the pipe on the U.S side on Thursday. Mack says the robot traveled 765 feet. Authorities think 20 feet beyond, the people digging the tunnel may have veered off from the pipe and bore into the dirt. Mack says agents plan to continue exploring on Friday.
Last summer, authorities found another passageway nearby. That passageway originated in the same Tijuana manhole, ran underneath the border fence and through the sewer system more than 640 feet into the U.S.
Mack says it appears, this time, diggers tapped into a different drain pipe on the U.S side.
Mack said last year that smuggling through the storm drain system in San Diego had been on the rise.
She says, historically, smugglers use the drain tunnels for immigrants and small quantities of marijuana.