US-Mexico drug tunnel with its own railway found

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ONE OF the most sophisticated drug smuggling tunnels between the USA and Mexico has been found, complete with its own lighting, ventilation and electric rail systems.

US authorities described the four foot by three foot tunnel as one of the most sophisticated secret passages they have ever discovered.

A US Homeland Security agent inside the tunnel. Picture: Getty
A US Homeland Security agent inside the tunnel. Picture: Getty

The tunnel, which zigzags the length of nearly six football pitches, links warehouses near Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, USA. The area is filled with nondescript warehouses, making it easier to conceal trucks being loaded with drugs.

The tunnel was shut down before any drugs made it through undetected, authorities said.

Authorities seized eight-and-a-half tons of marijuana and 327 pounds of cocaine in connection with the tunnel’s discovery, according to court records.

Three men who authorities say worked as drivers were charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute. They face prison sentences between 10 years and life imprisonment if convicted.

This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized drugs are seen on October 31, 2013. The drugs were taken from a tunnel linking warehouses in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial park and Tijuana, Mexico. The tunnel, equipped with electricity, ventilation and rail tracks, was shut down Wednesday night. Three people were arrested, and authorities seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine, marking the first time cocaine has recovered in connection with a local drug tunnel, ICE.    = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE�- MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Immigration and Customs Enforcement" -�NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  NO ARCHIVE =-/AFP/Getty Images
This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized drugs are seen on October 31, 2013. The drugs were taken from a tunnel linking warehouses in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial park and Tijuana, Mexico. The tunnel, equipped with electricity, ventilation and rail tracks, was shut down Wednesday night. Three people were arrested, and authorities seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine, marking the first time cocaine has recovered in connection with a local drug tunnel, ICE. = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE�- MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Immigration and Customs Enforcement" -�NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS NO ARCHIVE =-/AFP/Getty Images

Easy to dig

The tunnels are concentrated along the border in California and Arizona. San Diego is popular because its clay-like soil is easy to dig. In Nogales, Arizona, smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.

The tunnel is the eighth major passage discovered in San Diego since 2006.

Some of the largest tunnels have been discovered after central Mexico’s marijuana harvest in October, which presents drug cartels with a challenge of how to quickly get their product to consumers.

Past busts

In November 2011, authorities found a 600-yard tunnel that resulted in seizures of 32 tons of marijuana on both sides of the border, with 26 tons found on the US side, accounting for one of the largest pot busts in US history. The tunnel was equipped with electric rail cars, lighting and ventilation. Wooden planks lined the floor.

In 2010, authorities found a roughly 700-yard passage equipped with rail tracks that extended from the kitchen of a Tijuana home to two San Diego warehouses.

 

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