Mexican officials discovered a sophisticated cross-border tunnel that began in a Jacume home less than a football field away from the border.
A team made up of members of U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration determined that the tunnel did not yet have an exit into the U.S. though it did cross the border.
Officials mapped the tunnel and found that the tunnel reached 336 feet into the U.S. in the Jacumba area, according to a press release from Border Patrol.
Based on the tunnel’s size and technology used, Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael said it was a sophisticated tunnel that was likely intended to transport drugs into the U.S.
“Sophisticated tunnels take a lot of time and money to make,” Michael said, adding that they’re not uncommon to the area. “When we find them, they’re a pretty big deal.”
The tunnel had a rail system that ran the entire length of the tunnel, and a solar panel system that powered electricity for lighting and ventilation, according to Border Patrol. It also had systems to pump out water.
The shaft at the tunnel’s entry was about 31 feet deep. The unfinished exit shaft went up about 15 feet but did not break the surface.
The tunnel averaged about three feet tall and two and a half feet wide, and it measured 627 feet total in length.
Mexican State Police, State Preventive Police and Mexican military forces found the tunnel’s entrance during an operation in mid-September. Mexican officials partnered with the team of U.S. agencies to explore the tunnel. The team reached the tunnel’s end on Thursday.
According to Michael, officials found two tunnels in the San Diego sector in fiscal 2018. Warehouses near the Otay Mesa port of entry are a frequent ending point for tunnels in the area.
In August 2017, Border Patrol agents found a tunnel that emerged among weeds in a vacant area near the Otay Mesa border after 30 people, most from China and a few from Mexico, appeared out of it early one morning.
This is the first tunnel discovered in fiscal 2019.
Michael was not sure whether Mexican officials have made arrests in the case. No arrests have been made so far on the U.S. side, but the tunnel is still under investigation, Michael said.
According to Border Patrol Agent Vincent Pirro, once tunnel investigations are complete, agents generally fill them in so that they are no longer usable by smugglers.
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