Two more suspected drug-smuggling tunnels linking warehouses in Tijuana and San Diego have been uncovered by U.S. and Mexican authorities, and a 73-year-old California woman is accused of being the logistics manager for one passageway.
No drugs or other contraband were found in the so-called super tunnels, which featured lights, rails, wooden supports and ventilation, or in warehouses on either side of the border, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday.
The passages, which U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said cost millions of dollars to build, were the sixth and seventh super tunnels found between Tijuana and San Diego since 2010.
The first tunnel found this week was found Tuesday in an industrial park in the Otay Mesa section of San Diego. About 600 yards long and 70 feet underground, it was detected under the cement floor of a warehouse containing children’s toys and TVs.
Wednesday, the San Diego Tunnel Task Force arrested Glennys Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen from Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb. She is accused of overseeing logistics and faces federal charges of conspiring with others to maintain a drug-involved premises.
The second, more sophisticated passage was unearthed Thursday in Otay Mesa by Mexican investigators following leads from their U.S. counterparts. Stretching about 700 yards long, it contained a multi-tiered electric rail system, said ICE, which did not indicate the contents of the second warehouse or the warehouses in Tijuana.
“While technology certainly plays a part in our ongoing efforts, ultimately these investigations often owe more to the powers of observation and old fashioned detective work â€“ and that was exactly what happened here,” said said Derek Benner, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.
In November 2010, border agents uncovered an 1,800-foot-long drug-smuggling super tunnel connecting Tijuana with the same industrial park in San Diego. More than 20 tons of marijuana were seized in the Otay Mesa warehouse; Mexican soldiers confiscated five tons at the other end.
Since 2006, more than 80 cross-border tunnels in various stages of construction have been found, mostly in California and Arizona.