Second Drug Tunnel Leads To 8 Arrests, 20 Tons Of Pot Seized
Sinaloa Cartel Tied To Both Drug Tunnels Discovered This Month
12:19 AM, Nov 28, 2010
Homeland Security officials said two tunnels discovered beneath the U.S.-Mexico border were bankrolled by the Sinaloa Cartel. Homeland Security Special Agent Mike Unzueta said each tunnel was operated by separate cells from the cartel.The cell that controlled this particular tunnel had no crossover with the cell that controlled the tunnel that was found November second, Agent Unzueta said.
Eight people were arrested and more than 20 tons of marijuana was seized in connection with the discovery of the second drug-smuggling tunnel on Thanksgiving.The half-mile passageway linked two U.S. warehouses in Otay Mesa with a stucco residence in Tijuana according to the San Diego Tunnel Task Force.The Tijuana residence where the tunnel ended had a garage large enough to accommodate deliveries from tractor trailer trucks, authorities said.Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents along with Border Patrol agents swarmed a warehouse on Via de la Amistad in Otay Mesa last Thursday.Federal agents said they found marijuana in a tractor trailer on the U.S. side and inside the warehouse.This tunnel was outfitted with advanced rail, electrical and ventilation systems and was "more sophisticated" than the 600-yard-long tunnel linking warehouses in Otay Mesa and Tijuana discovered November 2, according to the task force.The task force found the tunnel after agents conducting surveillance in Otay Mesa noticed suspicious activity involving a truck leaving one of the warehouses.The truck was kept under surveillance until it reached the Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol traffic checkpoint in Temecula. The truck was stopped and 27,600 pounds of marijuana were found in the trailer, authorities said.Agents estimate each tunnel cost upwards of $3 million to construct. They believed the Sinaloa Cartel financed them to transport drugs, particularly marijuana into the United States.Previous published reports said the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for about 45% of all the drug trafficking in Mexico. Mexican officials also said the cartel is responsible for dozens of murders where the victims were beheaded or dissolved in giant vats of acid.A crackdown on both sides of the border has taken a toll on the Sinaloa Cartel. In July, one of its drug lord leaders, Ignacio Nacho Coronel was killed in a shootout with the Mexican Army. In October, Mexican officials seized and bured 134 tons of marijuana in Tijuana."The discovery again shows the cartels' growing desperation in the face of beefed up border security and the costly extremes these organizations are trying in an effort to avoid detection," said Unzueta.U.S. officials seized more than 47 tons of marijuana between the two tunnels.According to agents, the tunnel is the 76th discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last four years.An investigation of the second tunnel is continuing over this holiday weekend.The task force, formed seven years ago, includes agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Mexican military is also cooperating in the investigation.