Mexico border: Longest smuggling tunnel found by agents

Mexico border: Longest smuggling tunnel found by agents”

Stretching almost a mile, this tunnel is more than 1,000 feet longer than the next longest tunnel discovered in the area - a passageway 2,966 feet long that was found in San Diego in 2014, officials said.

The tunnel stretches more than 1,313 meters (4,309 feet) - starting in an industrial area in the Mexican town of Tijuana and ending near a warehouse area in the United States city of San Diego.

In addition to the rail-cart system and an elevator, the pathway had forced air ventilation, high voltage cables and a complex drainage system, US Customs and Border Protection said.

With help from Mexican authorities and intelligence gathering efforts, Border Patrol agents and Department of Homeland Security officials said they were able to determine over the following months how far the tunnel extended into Tijuana. The next longest tunnel in the USA, discovered in San Diego in 2014, was 2,966 feet long.

The tunnel is around five and a half feet tall and two feet wide and 4,309 feet long, averaging 70-feet deep and had a ventilation system, electricity and a rail system created to move large packs of drugs.

Though no arrests or drug seizures have been made in connection with the discovery, USA authorities stressed they believe it was active and in operation at one point, partly because it split into two directions.

"I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents", said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M Heitke.

What's believed to be a former exit to the tunnel was found in San Diego County's Otay Mesa warehouse district, but hundreds of sandbags blocked access to the tunnel at the location, officials said.

"The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels", said John W. Callery, special agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It was the 72nd drug tunnel discovered since 1993 in the San Diego area, where the clay soil is particularly good for supporting tunnels, but not so rocky that digging is too much of a challenge, agents said.

The tunnel was discovered in August.

"In my experience, this is exclusively a drug tunnel", Lenoir said.

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