Originally published November 4, 2010 at 9:24 a.m., updated November 4, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.
US and Mexican authorities have found a drug smuggling tunnel that runs from Tijuana to San Diego. It isn’t the most sophisticated or the longest tunnel discovered, but is significant for the amount of marijuana authorities seized.
U.S. and Mexican authorities have found a drug smuggling tunnel that runs from Tijuana to San Diego. It isn’t the most sophisticated or the longest tunnel discovered, but is significant for the amount of marijuana authorities seized.
Earlier this week, a semi-truck leaving a San Diego warehouse caught U.S. authorities’ attention.
The warehouse is about 300 yards from the border fence in an industrial area called Otay Mesa. “A little bit of good law enforcement, a little bit of gut sense, led us to lay in on the tractor trailer,” says John Morton, who directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
“We followed it all the way to the border patrol checkpoint in Temecula. And in that tractor-trailer was ten tons of marijuana,” he said.
Authorities arrested the two people in the truck, a husband and wife.
Then, they searched the Otay Mesa warehouse.
They found about 20 more tons of marijuana and a big rectangular hole cut right out of the cement floor. It turned out to be the opening to the tunnel. “The actual tunnel exit is right over there. We can go take a look at that,” said ICE Special Agent Joe Garcia pointing to one side of the warehouse. He gave Morton a tour.
They inspected pallets and boxes of marijuana the size of Smart Cars that lined the otherwise bare space and peered into the tunnel’s entrance. “You have to be on your hands and knees to get in. Then there’s ventilation, a little bit of a primitive rail system in there and there’s some lighting,” said Garcia.
Garcia says the tunnel dipped about 18 feet underground. From there, it was a straight shot, about 600 yards, under the border fence and up into to a warehouse in Tijuana. The Mexican Army found another four tons of marijuana there inside the cement block building sandwiched between houses.
ICE Director John Morton says that’s a total of about 30 tons and that’s the big news. “This is the largest seizure ever here along the border in San Diego. This is obviously the work of the cartels,” said Morton.
Morton says he doesn’t know which cartel or if the find is linked to Tijuana authorities’ 134-ton pot seizure a few weeks ago.
The husband and wife caught driving the truck are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in San Diego today.