DEA: U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Drug Tunnel Bust Yields 30 Tons of Marijuana

The $20 million in marijuana is largest tunnel-related seizure to date.

ByABC News
November 4, 2010, 2:26 PM

Nov. 4, 2010— -- The Drug Enforcement Administration says it has busted a significant cross-border, drug-smuggling tunnel and netted about 30 tons of marijuana seized at two warehouses in the United States and Mexico, two days after California voters shot down a proposition to legalize the personal use of marijuana.

Claiming another victory in the cat-and-mouse games played by drug smugglers along the Mexican border, the DEA and San Diego Tunnel Task Force said today the operation is one of the largest seizures to date involving drug-smuggling tunnels.

DEA officials said they believe the tunnel had been completed recently and may have been in operation for about a month.

The 1,800-foot underground tunnel linked a warehouse in Otey Mesa, Calif., with a similar sized building in Tijuana, Mexico. Agents and officers with the Tunnel Task Force, including the DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, had been conducting surveillance in the area when the officers noticed suspicious activity around a tractor-trailer truck being loaded and parked at the warehouse in Otey Mesa.

After the truck departed the warehouse, a police check-point was established so the truck could be searched. Border Patrol agents and officers discovered 10 tons of marijuana stuffed into large cargo boxes, according to law enforcement officials.

The driver of the truck and a passenger were arrested. Their identities have yet to be disclosed. A federal search warrant was then obtained to search the warehouse, where the Task Force discovered about 15 tons of marijuana and the portal to the tunnel.

U.S. officials contacted the Mexican military, which conducted a search of the warehouse in Tijuana where they discovered about 4 tons of marijuana.

DEA officials said the Mexican side of the tunnel was equipped with rails and lighting to send drug sleds toward the U.S. side of the tunnel, which DEA officials described as a crawl space. The DEA has estimated that the seized marijuana is worth $20 million.