U.S.-Mexico tunnel yields 32 tons of pot

November 30, 2011

The most elaborate cross-border tunnel ever found linking Mexico and United States — a passageway complete with electric rail cars, hydraulic doors and an elevator — was uncovered in a San Diego warehouse this week, along with a record haul of 32 tons of marijuana, authorities announced Wednesday.

“This is without a doubt the most sophisticated tunnel we’ve ever found along the Mexican border,” said Derek Benner, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s special agent in charge of investigations in San Diego, in an interview.

The 600-yard tunnel also has solid wood floors, good lighting and ventilation and is structurally sound. It begins near the Tijuana airport and ends in a warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial park, where it was discovered Tuesday.

It was the second large tunnel found in two weeks connecting Tijuana and San Diego.

From these two smuggling tunnels alone, authorities seized 50 tons of marijuana — about 100,000 pounds or 1.6 million ounces of pot. Despite soaring production of marijuana in the United States, there still appears to be a huge market for Mexican mota north of the border.

Authorities declined to say which drug cartel built the tunnel, but Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and his Sinaloa syndicate are believed to have wrested control of the Tijuana gateway after years of bloody struggle against the local Arellano-Felix organization.

William Booth is The Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief. He was previously bureau chief in Mexico, Los Angeles and Miami.
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