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Cocaine, marijuana found in half-mile drug tunnel between U.S. and Mexico

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Federal agents recently uncovered a nearly half-mile long tunnel in a San Diego neighborhood after chasing down alleged drug traffickers. Nearly $22 million worth of drugs was found inside. Photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California
Federal agents recently uncovered a nearly half-mile long tunnel in a San Diego neighborhood after chasing down alleged drug traffickers. Nearly $22 million worth of drugs was found inside. Photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California

SAN DIEGO, April 21 (UPI) -- A nearly half-mile long tunnel between San Diego, Calif., and Tijuana, Mexico, used for drug trafficking was recently discovered by federal agents, who also found nearly $22 million worth of drugs.

Two tons of cocaine and seven tons of marijuana were found in the 800-yard, 46 foot-deep tunnel that began at a Tijuana house and ended in San Diego's Otay Mesa neighborhood, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California said Wednesday.

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The tunnel sported a ventilation system and lighting. It is the 13th sophisticated tunnel found along the California-Mexico border since 2006.

"This is the largest cocaine seizure ever associated with a tunnel," Southern California District Attorney Laura Duffy said, adding that it is the second "super tunnel" discovered recently.

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About six people have been arrested in connection to the tunnel, which was discovered after agents were chasing alleged drug traffickers. The agents noticed a commercial truck deliver an industrial dumpster full of wood scraps to an outdoor industrial lot and later discovered the lot was an entryway to the tunnel.

"On the surface, few would ever suspect that traffickers were moving multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana worth tens of millions of dollars in such an unassuming way, through this rabbit hole in the ground, in full view of the world around it," Duffy said.

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The tunnel bears similarities to the one used by drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The tunnel Guzman used to escape the Mexico's Altiplano Federal Prison was about a mile long and was fitted with lights and a ventilation system.

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Guzman was captured in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa on Jan. 8 after escaping July 11. Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in nearly the entire United States.

The tunnel found between San Diego and Tijuana has not yet been credited to any specific drug operation.

"I think it fair to say that few would suspect that traffickers were moving multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana in this very unassuming way, in full view of the world around them," Duffy said, the Los Angeles Times reported. "It's a rabbit hole ... Just the whole way that it comes up right out into the open is a bit ingenious. It's something completely different than what we've seen before."

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