FBI Uncovers the Longest Cross Border Tunnel in the U.S.
For more than a year, the government had successfully mapped out a quarter of a mile narco tunnel.
After close coordination with the FBI and the U.S. Border Patrol, government officials have uncovered a 4,309 ft. cross border tunnel that stretches out from San Diego, California and into an industrial area in Mexico.
In a statement, the CBP said: “The tunnel originates in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an industrial area approximately one-half-mile west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Following the discovery in late August 2019, Mexican law enforcement identified the tunnel entrance and members of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force (SDTTF) began mapping the tunnel from Mexico.”
Based on the official statement, the tunnel was hidden by a small industrial building and winded up north and extended to 4,068 ft. away from the U.S. border. The path was extremely narrow as it only measures approximately five and a half feet tall and two feet wide. It has an average depth of 70 ft. from the surface. The path boasts a rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, a complex drainage system and even an elevator at the entrance.
The tunnel stretches over three-quarters of a mile and is considered as the longest tunnel in the U.S. This is followed by another 2,966 ft. tunnel which was also found in San Diego in 2014.
The CBP credits the success to a “challenging multi-year, inter-agency investigation, utilizing technology capabilities, intelligence gathering, and community outreach.” According to an Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Cardell Morant believed that while subterranean tunnels are nothing new in the California-Mexico border, officials are still astonished by the sophistication and the efforts of criminal organizations to go into lengths for cross border smuggling.
Morant also points out that the discovery “underscores the importance of the partnerships HSI has with the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), United States Border Patrol (USBP), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other regional agencies, as collaborative investigations and community outreach are key to combatting this type of threat.”
For Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke, the real importance of the tunnel’s discovery will stop cross-border smuggling and will remain unusable for narco organizations. “I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” Heitke said. Feds also discovered an offshoot from the main tunnel which ran approximately 3,529 feet into the U.S. and comes to an end without reaching the surface. On the other hand, the main tunnel stretches another city block in which several hundred sandbags block the tunnel’s exit in the warehouse district.
As EA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery said, “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. 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.”