Feds Find Longest-Ever Mexico-Calif. Drug Tunnel

San Diego business was selling a lot more than wooden pallets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2016 3:50 AM CDT
Feds Find Longest-Ever Mexico-Calif. Drug Tunnel
An elevator inside the tunnel.   (United States Department of Justice via AP)

Federal authorities say they've discovered a cross-border tunnel that runs a half-mile from a Tijuana, Mexico, 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 7 tons of marijuana, the AP reports. At around 2,600 feet, the tunnel is the longest ever found along the California-Mexico border, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The unusually narrow tunnel is only about 3 feet wide, equipped with a rail system, lighting, and ventilation. It's the 13th sophisticated secret passage found along California's border since 2006.

The tunnel is unusual because it was being used for cocaine, not just marijuana, Laura Duffy, US attorney for the Southern District of California, told reporters on Wednesday. Tunnels are often built for marijuana because its bulk and odor make it more difficult to escape border inspectors' scrutiny than cocaine and other drugs. The elevator, big enough for eight to 10 people, is located in the closet of a Tijuana house. The tunnel zig-zags 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, it is a bit ingenious, I think, and it's something completely different than what we've seen." (An Alaska fugitive was found in an elaborate tunnel system under a trailer park.)

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