Two smuggling tunnels found near Mexican border

San Diego, CA (KSWB) -- Federal agents working with Mexican authorities uncovered two sophisticated tunnels from Mexico to warehouses in Otay Mesa, federal officials said Friday.

The first tunnel was discovered Tuesday evening as the result of a five-month investigation by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack said. The tunnel is about 600 yards long and ends inside a warehouse at 10145 Via de la Amistad.

The tunnel entrance is a 70-foot shaft equipped with a pulley system to hoist smuggled goods into the warehouse, according to an ICE news release. The underground passage is reinforced with wooden trusses, has electric lighting and a crude rail system.

Investigators arrested a 73-year-old Chula Vista woman on Wednesday. She is suspected of supervising operations at the warehouse.

A second more sophisticated tunnel was discovered Thursday with help from Mexican investigators. It ends in another warehouse at 10005 Marconi Drive. The 700-yard tunnel has a multi-level electric rail system and ventilation, investigators said.

"Here we are again, foiling cartel plans to sneak millions of dollars of illegal drugs through secret passageways that cost millions of dollars to build," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. "Going underground is not a good business plan. We have promised to locate these super tunnels and keep powerful drug cartels from taking their business underground and out of sight, and once again, we have delivered on that promise."

Agents did not find any drugs in either warehouse.

Federal authorities have found five other cross-border tunnels in San Diego County the last four years. Since 2006, they have detected at least 80 underground passageways used by smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border, most of them in California and Arizona, officials said.


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