Sophisticated drug tunnel found connecting San Diego to Tijuana

SAN DIEGO — An underground cross-border tunnel was discovered on Saturday that spans the length of a football field from Tijuana to a warehouse in Otay Mesa.

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Six people have been charged in connection with allegedly trafficking drugs through the tunnel that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, over 60 feet below the surface, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Monday.

The 1,744-foot-long tunnel was discovered on May 14 in a warehouse in San Diego, located approximately 300 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border fence. Agents uncovered a sophisticated cross-border tunnel exit point carved out of the cement floor in the warehouse.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the tunnel had reinforced walls, a rail system, a ventilation system and electricity. Authorities said it was unknown how long the tunnel had been operating and what amount of drugs got through undetected.

Six people, ages 31 to 55, were charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. All are Southern California residents, according to The Associated Press.

Many tunnels are in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial area, where clay-like soil is conducive to digging and warehouses provide cover.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, there have been 90 subterranean passages discovered in the Southern District of California since 1993. The last tunnel found in the Southern District of California was in March 2020.

By federal law, U.S. authorities must fill the U.S. side of tunnels with concrete after they are discovered.