Cross-border drug tunnels going high tech
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The latest drug smuggling tunnel discovered between San Diego and Tijuana is notable for unusual sophistication, officials said on Wednesday.
The tunnel, between a warehouse in San Diego and one in Tijuana, is the fourth illegal underground passageway found between the United States and Mexico this month.
“This is the most elaborate and sophisticated tunnel that has ever been discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.
Benner said the tunnel featured a hydraulically-controlled steel door, an elevator, rail cars on tracks, electric lighting, reinforced walls and wooden floors.
Investigators found the 612 yard long tunnel on Tuesday after a six-month investigation, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Authorities confiscated over 32 tons of marijuana and arrested six people in connection with the operation, officials said.
They said the rash of tunnel discoveries in November came as drug smugglers moved large quantities of marijuana into the United States at the close of harvest season.
This latest passageway is the seventh large-scale drug smuggling tunnel discovered in the area since 2006, according to ICE. Federal authorities have detected more than 75 cross-border smuggling tunnels across the United States in the last four years, the agency said.
“We invite the cartels to continue in their futile efforts to smuggle marijuana into the U.S.,” Benner said.