U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) announced Wednesday that it has discovered the largest ever cross-border smuggling tunnel in agency history.
“The tunnel originates in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an industrial area approximately one-half-mile west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry,” a press release said.
CBP said it discovered the tunnel with the help of numerous other federal and local law enforcement entities, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and that the tunnel began on the southern side of the border concealed by an industrial building near a local airport. From there, it stemmed north 4,068 feet into the United States.
Previously, the longest tunnel ever found was just shy of 3,000 feet.
The newly-discovered tunnel was also built elaborately.
“The tunnel, that is approximately five and a half feet tall and two feet wide, has an average depth of 70 ft. from the surface,” the press release said. “It includes an extensive rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a complex drainage system.”
Cardell T. Morant, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego, said that such tunnels are not unusual, but that this one was unusually sophisticated. He also noted that he believed it to be built by a criminal organization.
“While subterranean tunnels are not a new occurrence along the California-Mexico border, the sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrates the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” he said.
The tunnel had only one offshoot, which law enforcement said extended a few feet in a different direction and then stopped. It did not extend upwards towards the ground surface.
According to the press release, CBP said it found the “former” exit point of the tunnel, suggesting that the tunnel was no longer in use.
“The main tunnel extended another city block at which point agents discovered several hundred sand bags blocking the suspected former exit of the tunnel in the Otay Mesa warehouse district within the U.S.,” the release said.
No arrests have been made in connection with the building and/or use of the tunnel.
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