Second person charged in connection with cross-border tunnel

SAN DIEGO - A second defendant was charged Monday in connection with a cross-border drug-smuggling tunnel discovered by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force.

Gilberto Quezada-Madrid appeared in federal court Monday on charges of conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises and use of a cross-border tunnel.

Quezada-Madrid, 26, was denied bail, pending a detention hearing Thursday.

According to a criminal complaint, agents with Homeland Security Investigations, part of the task force, connected Quezada-Madrid with suspected tunnels in San Diego and Tijuana, including numerous sightings dating to 2013.

Eight days ago on March 31, agents watched as the defendant arrived at a warehouse at 10145 Via de la Amistad. The next day, agents found a concealed cross-border tunnel in the warehouse and learned the entry point was in a storage business, Mini Bodegas de la Frontera, in Tijuana about 800 feet south of the border, authorities said.

Two days later, members of the Tunnel Task Force, in collaboration with enforcement counterparts in Mexico, uncovered a second tunnel linking an Otay Mesa building in an industrial park to a warehouse in Tijuana.

The first tunnel -- about 600 yards long -- was found Tuesday night, based on evidence developed during a five-month probe, according to authorities. The passageway -- equipped with lighting, a rail system and wooden trusses -- led to the de la Amistad warehouse. The entrance was a roughly a 70-foot shaft topped by a cement cover.

The builders installed a pulley system at the tunnel's U.S. entrance to hoist contraband out of the tunnel.

The warehouse was filled with a variety of children's toys, including plastic three-wheelers, and boxes of televisions, similar to the merchandise found in the warehouse linked to a smuggling tunnel found in October.

On Wednesday, Glennys Rodriguez, 73, who allegedly coordinated logistics at the Via de la Amistad warehouse, was arrested.

The other tunnel was found Thursday as Mexican investigators, working with U.S. law enforcement agencies, followed up on leads arising from the discovery of the first tunnel.

The tunnels were the sixth and seventh of their kind found in the San Diego area in less than four years. If laid end-to-end, the seven tunnels would extend a distance of nearly two miles.

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