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Feds Find Smuggling Tunnel Linking San Diego to Tijuana, Seize $29 Million in Drugs

A tunnel used by drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to escape before being recaptured, in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, Mexico, January 11, 2016. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Federal immigration authorities have discovered a drug smuggling tunnel leading from San Diego under the U.S.-Mexico border and seized nearly $30 million worth of drugs found inside.

Federal agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force discovered the “sophisticated” tunnel on Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a release Tuesday. The discovery resulted from a joint investigation by members of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The tunnel extends more than 2,000 feet underground from a warehouse in Tijuana to a warehouse in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego. Authorities found an estimated $29.6 million in drugs in the tunnel, seizing 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of fentanyl.

Investigators estimated the passageway is several months old based on “advanced construction” in parts of the tunnel, including reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting and an underground rail system. U.S. investigators worked with the Fiscalia General de la Republica and Secretaria de la Defensa Naciona to find the tunnel’s entrance on the Mexico side.

The discovery comes two months after authorities in January discovered the “longest cross-border tunnel” yet in the same area, a 4,309-foot passage running from Tijuana to San Diego.

“Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, DEA employees continue to work tirelessly to serve and protect the community,” DEA special agent in charge John W. Callery said in a statement.

“I hope this sends a clear message that despite the ongoing public health crisis, [Homeland Security Investigations] and our law enforcement partners will remain resilient and continue to pursue criminal organizations responsible for the cross-border smuggling of narcotics into the United States,” Homeland Security Investigations San Diego acting special agent in charge Cardell T. Morant said.

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