On the outside it looked like an ordinary ice factory, just down the road from the international airport in Tijuana, Mexico, and a few blocks from the Mexican Federal Police headquarters in this border city.
But Mexican officials received an anonymous tip about La Hielera del Aeropuerto, and soldiers and police surrounded the building on Thursday only to discover the entrance to a cross-border drug tunnel. A source at the Public Safety Secretariat for the state of Baja California told the San Diego Union-Tribune they found what appeared to be marijuana that had been wrapped in square plastic parcels.
The CW6 reported that as much as two tons of drugs may have been confiscated in La Hielera.
As of late Thursday, according to the Union-Tribune, authorities had not conducted a full inventory of the premises as they were awaiting a judge’s order allowing the search.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the existence of the cross-border tunnel but would not give any more details about its location or its level of sophistication.
ICE issued a statement to CW6 saying, “In order to ensure the integrity of the ongoing investigation and the safety of those involved, [ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation office in] San Diego is not providing additional details at this time.”
Over the last five years, more than 75 such smuggling tunnels have been discovered in the border area, most recently in April, an 800-yard-long one from Tijuana to Otay Mesa that was equipped with an elevator and a rail system.
According to local media, people on social media are saying the ice factory never seemed to be open.