Federal authorities last week shut down a 1,700-foot tunnel used by drug smugglers to haul contraband from Tijuana, Mexico, to a warehouse in San Diego, California.
Federal law enforcement discovered a drug tunnel complete with reinforced walls, electricity, ventilation, and a rail system spanning the U.S.-Mexico border just after midnight on Friday. Agents arrested six people on drug trafficking charges and confiscated hundreds of pounds-worth of contraband, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. “We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities.”
In all, authorities seized 1,762 pounds of cocaine, 164 pounds of methamphetamine, and 3.5 pounds of heroin. Tunneling is routinely used by drug cartels and traffickers to smuggle illicit chemicals into the U.S. from Mexico. Since 1993, authorities have discovered and shut down 90 passages in the Southern District of California alone.
Law enforcement agents with Homeland Security made the bust after staking out a residence previously used to store and sell cocaine. The stakeout eventually led officials to a warehouse located about 300 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in California.
Over the course of a few hours, officials stopped a handful of vehicles trying to move materials and drugs in and out of the warehouse. Authorities eventually moved in to search the warehouse itself, and saw the entrance to the tunnel dug through the structure’s concrete floor. According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the tunnel is 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep, and roughly 4-feet in diameter.
The stream of drugs entering the U.S. from across its southern border has gained more attention recently after estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that overdose deaths in the U.S. rose to an all-time high last year. Drug confiscations across the southern border have also jumped as record numbers of migrants have crossed into the U.S.
In fiscal year 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents seized over 624,500 pounds of drugs. From the year prior, cocaine seizures increased by 68%, methamphetamine seizures jumped 7%, and fentanyl seizures rose 134%.
Republicans critical of the Biden administration’s immigration policy have pointed to the flow of drugs and the rising number of Americans dying from drug overdoses, saying that poor border security is contributing to the drug crisis and having a fatal impact on Americans.
“They’ve been doing their best to hide it. Senator Marsha Blackburn and I have been all over this trying to get more clarity out of the Department of Homeland Security—out of DHS,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) said in December. “They have been not forthcoming on this, but they continue to move people across the border.”
“[The] incidents of fentanyl overdoses and deaths continue to rise month after month. If that’s not a surrogate, I don’t know what it is, but they are killing our kids here in Tennessee,” he said.