Massive Drug Tunnel Uncovered At U.S.-Mexico Border

By McCarton Ackerman 10/26/15

Federal agents have discovered numerous drug tunnels at the border in recent years.

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A massive 2,600-foot drug tunnel near San Diego was uncovered by federal officials on Wednesday, leading to 22 arrests and the seizure of millions of dollars in drugs.

The Tunnel Task Force conducted a six-month investigation on the tunnel and eventually found a hole in the floor of a warehouse near the city of Otay Mesa in Mexico, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The hole led to a shaft descending 32 feet into the ground, which then connected to an underground passageway that had lighting, ventilation and a rail system all pointing towards the border.

Twelve tons of marijuana in the tunnel, with a street value of $6 million, was confiscated by federal officials. Isaias Enriquez-Acosta, 53, and Isidro Silva-Acosta, 27, were also charged with unlawful conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to use border tunnels and passages.

“We see a super tunnel open for business once every year or so,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy to ABC News. “Just when they think they’re ready to move, we put it out of business.”

Since 2010, federal authorities have raided 75 smuggling tunnels, most of which were in California or Arizona. Eight of the tunnels were located in San Diego. Since 2006, federal authorities have seized over 100 tons worth of narcotics from the tunnels.

Two drug tunnels with railways were also found at the U.S.-Mexico border along San Diego in April 2014. Both tunnels connected from Otay Mesa to Tijuana, Mexico, but were radically different in their functionality. One tunnel was furnished with basic lighting, a crude rail system, and wooden trusses, while the other had a multi-tiered electric rail system and a variety of ventilation equipment. Both tunnels were several hundred yards long and included a pulley system on the U.S. side that was apparently used to lift drug contraband into the warehouse.

A 73-year-old woman was arrested and has been accused of running one of the warehouses connected to a drug-smuggling operations.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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