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US authorities announced Monday the discovery of a massive tunnel that runs under the US-Mexico border and was likely used to transport drugs undetected.
The “fully operational” 1,700+ foot tunnel runs from Tijuana to an industrial warehouse in San Diego, California. Authorities said it contains a “sophisticated” structural system that was likely used to smuggle heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl into the US.
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“It is estimated to be about 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep, with a diameter of about 4 feet at its widest point,” said Randy Grossman, US Attorney for the Southern District of California. “It has reinforced walls, a rail system and electricity for ventilation.”
US authorities did not say how long the tunnel had been operating, but announced that $25 million worth of drugs were seized from the tunnel and its operators over the weekend. The drugs included 1,762 pounds of cocaine, 165 pounds of methamphetamine and 3.5 pounds of heroin.
Six Southern California residents were arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, authorities said.
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The industrial warehouse where the tunnel empties is near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Otay Mesa port of entry, but U.S. authorities have not commented further on the discovery, Fox 5 reported.
The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the tunnel.
Authorities said the tunnel was discovered when officers began sweeping the area for drugs. They conducted drug raids on several houses where drugs were known to be hidden and then checked the warehouse, where they discovered the tunnel.
At least 15 of these sophisticated cross-border tunnels have been discovered since 2006, officials said.
Authorities refused to link the latest tunnel to any specific cartel. By federal law, US authorities must fill the US side of the tunnels with concrete after they are discovered.
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Last week, Border Patrol agents apprehended several sex offenders and gang members who crossed the border into the US amid a border crisis that has overwhelmed border security.
The arrests included 15 illegal immigrants convicted or wanted on sex crime charges and three members of the notoriously violent MS-13 gang.
Associated Press contributed to this report.