U.S. Authorities Uncover Major Cross-Border Drug Smuggling Tunnel

Published November 04, 2010

| FoxNews.com

Authorities in southern California have uncovered a major cross-border drug smuggling tunnel that they say is linked to 30 tons of marijuana seized in the U.S. and Mexico.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced Wednesday that the 600-yard underground tunnel connects a San Diego-area warehouse with a similar building in Tijuana, Mexico.

In a press release obtained by FoxNews.com, authorities said the "crawl-space sized" passageway -- equipped with rail, lighting and ventilation systems -- was likely constructed recently.

Agents with the San Diego Tunnel Task force reported suspicious activity at the warehouse in Otay Mesa -- a mostly rural community just north of the border -- on Tuesday.

The DEA said that officials tracked a tractor-trailer truck leaving the warehouse and that Border Patrol agents stopped the vehicle as it approached a traffic checkpoint in Temecula. There agents seized 10 tons of marijuana packed into cargo boxes, according to the press release.

Investigators then raided the Otay Mesa warehouse, where they uncovered an additional 15 tons of marijuana and the entrance to a "sophisticated" underground tunnel. Authorities then alerted Mexican officials, who located the tunnel's second entrance to a warehouse in Tijuana where another 4 tons of the drug were found.

"I applaud the efforts of this skilled multi-agency task force of tenacious agents from DEA, ICE, Border Patrol and California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement who uncovered this elaborate smuggling scheme leading to the massive marijuana haul and tunnel discovery," DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement Wednesday.

"Not only will this seizure significantly disrupt the responsible cartel by stripping from it millions in potential drug profits, but it will also keep this dangerous and addictive drug off our streets and out of our neighborhoods."

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