At the culmination of multi-year, multi-agency investigation, US authorities in the San Diego Tunnel Task Force announced the discovery of a 4,309 foot smuggling tunnel between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.
The entrance to the tunnel was adjacent to the Tijuana International Airport, which is located along the border between the two countries. As smuggling tunnels go, it had unprecedented amenities:
U.S. Border Patrol agents described the tunnel as the “most sophisticated they had seen,” with an extensive rail-and-cart system to rapidly transport drugs, forced-air ventilation and high-voltage electrical cables and panels. The tunnel, named Baja Metro by border agents, also had an elevator at its entrance and a complex drainage system.
While the tunnel does not currently have an exit point into the United States, Deputy Chief Border Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said “evidence strongly suggests that tunnel was previously operational.”
U.S. authorities announced the discovery of the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border, stretching more than three-quarters of a mile from an industrial site in Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Diego area. "It was endless." https://t.co/jKSm1oRNE2 pic.twitter.com/vebnx7j3Xl
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) January 30, 2020
Task force authorities said they weren’t sure how long Baja Metro had been there. It is one of 72 drug tunnels discovered in the San Diego area since 1993. Border Patrol Agent Lance LeNoir, who mapped Baja Metro, said that the cartels are continually enhancing their tunnel-building capabilities.
“Just when we think they wouldn’t be capable, they’re going into an area where we never really thought they had the capacity to go,” he said.
“I would bet, yes, that right now they are building more tunnels.”
As federal agents in the United States continue cracking down on illegal border crossings, cartels will continue to build tunnels to import their deadly product into our country. John Callery, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said:
“The tunnel discovery is another drastic reminder of how serious the drug problem is and how the cartels will take risks and expend endless amounts of money to get deadly drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine into the United States.
By working together, the agencies of the Tunnel Task Force have prevented Mexican cartels from using this tunnel to get additional drugs into our communities and ultimately destroying the lives of our families.”
The investigation was a joint effort by the Border Patrol, Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. attorney’s office, with assistance from Mexican law enforcement authorities.