San Diego Task Force Seizes Large Cache From Drug Smuggling Tunnel

Nearly $30 million worth of cannabis, cocaine, and other substances were seized from a drug-smuggling tunnel on the United States-Mexico border last month.

On Thursday, March 19, federal agents working with the San Diego Tunnel Task Force (SDTTF) uncovered a drug-smuggling tunnel extending more than 2,000 feet from a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico to a warehouse in an Otay Mesa commercial complex.

The tunnel was discovered through an ongoing investigation conducted by members of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force, including personnel from Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

SDTTF also received support from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department throughout the investigation.

Agents presented evidence to a U.S. federal judge who granted a search warrant for the Otay Mesa warehouse, resulting in the discovery of the tunnel exit point.

Agents also worked in cooperation with the Fiscalia General de la Republica and Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional to locate the tunnel entrance on the Mexico side.

Based on the advanced construction of several areas of the tunnel, which included reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting, and a rail system, agents estimate that the tunnel had existed for several months before it was discovered.

“Several months ago, agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force announced the seizure of the longest cross-border tunnel and today we announce the discovery of another sophisticated tunnel with large quantities of drugs seized from within,” sais DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery. “These tunnels show the determination of drug trafficking organizations to subvert our border controls and smuggle deadly drugs into our community. But these recent tunnel seizures also show the dedication of our amazing partners on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force to locate and shut down these tunnels to keep our communities safe.”

Pallets of drugs seized from the tunnel

Agents seized approximately 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of cannabis, and more than two pounds of fentanyl from the tunnel.

The estimated value of the drugs seized from the tunnel was placed at approximately $29.6 million.

According to the DEA, the seizure marked the first time that five different types of drugs had been found inside a smuggling tunnel.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer says that the tunnel takedown is more significant in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic when stopping the movement of unauthorized people and packages across international borders is of utmost importance.