The longest illicit cross-border tunnel ever has been discovered along the Southwest border.
“I am thrilled that this high-level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke, per a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The tunnel begins in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, in an industrial area around one-half-mile from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. After discovering the tunnel in August 2019, Mexican law enforcement pinpointed the entrance and then the San Diego Tunnel Task Force started mapping the tunnel from Mexico. Hidden by a small industrial building, the tunnel goes north into the U.S., where it stretches a total of 4,309 feet, or over three-quarters of a mile. The second-longest tunnel discovered in the U.S. was in San Diego in 2014, and was 2,996 feet long.
“While subterranean tunnels are not a new occurrence along the California-Mexico border, the sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrate [sic] the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” said Cardell T. Morant, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations San Diego, per CBP’s statement.
The tunnel is approximately five and a half feet tall and two feet wide and has an average depth of 70 feet from the surface. It has a comprehensive rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a complex drainage system. An offshoot from the main tunnel was also found.
“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels. And although the cartels will continue to use their resources to try and breach our border, the DEA and our partners on the Tunnel Task Force will continue to use our resources to ensure they fail, that our border is secure, and that tunnels like this are shut down to stem the flow of deadly drugs entering the United States.”
There have been no arrest or seizures made since the tunnel was discovered.