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Authorities Stunned by Border Smuggling Tunnel

It is the longest ever found
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2020 1:18 AM CST
Updated Jan 30, 2020 6:50 AM CST
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This photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration shows what is believed to be the longest smuggling tunnel between Mexico and the US.   (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP)
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(Newser) – US authorities on Wednesday announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border, stretching more than three-quarters of a mile from an industrial site in Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Diego area. The tunnel featured an extensive rail cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a drainage system. While there were no arrests, no drugs found at the site, and no confirmed exit point in the US, the length—more than 14 football fields—stunned authorities. "This one blows past (the second-longest)," says Lance LeNoir, a Border Patrol operations supervisor. "We never really thought they had the moxie to go that far. They continue to surprise me."

The tunnel exposes limitations of President Trump’s border wall, which stretches several feet underground in the area and is considered effective against small, crudely built tunnels often called "gopher holes," the AP reports. The one announced Wednesday was found about 70 feet underground, well below the wall. Following the discovery in August, Mexican law enforcement identified the entrance and US investigators mapped the tunnel, which extended a total of 4,309 feet. The next longest tunnel in the US was discovered in San Diego in 2014. It was 2,966 feet long. Authorities have found 15 sophisticated tunnels on California’s border with Mexico since 2006. The tunnels are concentrated in Otay Mesa, an area where clay-like soil is conducive to digging and warehouses provide cover.

(Read more US-Mexico border stories.)

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