By Jim Kouri
More than 36 tons of marijuana were discovered in what’s being called the “most sophisticated tunnel on the border” between Mexico and the United States, a U.S. drug enforcement source said on Friday.
According to the Law Enforcement Examiner source, 32.4 tons were seized on the U.S. side of the tunnel in San Diego, while about 4 tons were seized in Mexico. Authorities stated they are not certain who owned the drugs with a street value of nearly $65 million.
Six suspects also were arrested in the U.S.-Mexican law enforcement operation.
Special Agent Derek Benner of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told news organizations in San Diego that the 600-meter-long passage, located between Tijuana and San Diego, was equipped with a sophisticated hydraulic elevator, electric-powered shuttle-cars running on rails, a wooden staircase and hardwood floors from one end to another.
“This is an incredibly efficient tunnel designed to move a lot of narcotics,” Benner said.
The tunnel, 50 feet below ground, bears signs of engineering skill and professional drilling tools. It was carved through solid rock. Compact fluorescent bulbs wired to the Mexican side of the border provide light while two pumps keep the tunnel dry, according to the DEA.
Shrink-wrapped bundles of marijuana worth $5.6 million on the street were found at the end of the tunnel in a shipping container, indicating that it was intended to serve as a major smuggling corridor.
Officials believe that the tunnel being used to secretly transport contraband began operation recently.
Lauren Mack, another ICE spokeswoman, described the tunnel as one of the “most sophisticated” ever discovered on the border.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Border Patrol announced they had seized more than five tons of marijuana at a south Texas U.S.-Mexico border checkpoint.
Border Patrol agents discovered the drugs in a truck loaded with broccoli at the checkpoint. The 470 bundles of marijuana were worth about $8.2 million, according to the Border Patrol. The driver, who was not identified, was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.