8 Arrested, 20 Tons Of Pot Seized After Drug Tunnel Discovery

San Diego News Story| KGTV San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Eight people were arrested and more than 20 tons of marijuana was seized in connection with the discovery of the second drug-smuggling tunnel crossing the U. S.-Mexico border this month, federal authorities announced Friday.

The half-mile passageway linking two U. S. warehouses in Otay Mesa with a stucco residence in Tijuana was located Thursday morning by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force. The Tijuana residence where the tunnel ended had a garage large enough to accommodate deliveries from tractor trailer trucks, authorities said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents along with Border Patrol agents swarmed a warehouse on Via de la Amistad in Otay Mesa Thanksgiving morning.

Federal agents said they found marijuana in a tractor trailer on the U. S. side and inside the warehouse. This tunnel was outfitted with advanced rail, electrical and ventilation systems and was “more sophisticated” than the 600-yard-long tunnel linking warehouses in Otay Mesa and Tijuana discovered Nov. 2, according to the task force.

The task force found the tunnel after agents conducting surveillance in Otay Mesa noticed suspicious activity involving a truck leaving one of the warehouses.

The truck was kept under surveillance until it reached the Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol traffic checkpoint in Temecula. The truck was stopped and 27,600 pounds of marijuana were found in the trailer, authorities said.

According to agents, the tunnel is the 76th discovered along the U. S.-Mexico border in the last four years. The underground passageway discovered Nov. 2 had its own rail system, ventilation and lighting. It had not been in use very long, but agents found more than 30 tons of pot had already made its way though it and into San Diego. This seizure is considered the largest in state history and among the top five in the country. Investigators said the tunnel discovery earlier this month had all the telltale signs of a major drug cartel written all over it.

“The discovery again shows the cartels’ growing desperation in the face of beefed up border security and the costly extremes these organizations are trying in an effort to avoid detection,” said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.

An investigation of the tunnel is continuing.

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