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Task force discovers longest illegal border tunnel

SD Border Tunnel 1
Part of the ventilation system in the drug tunnel
SD Border Tunnel 2
A cart used to transport items within the tunnel
SD Border Tunnel 3
An incomplete spur at the tunnel's end
SD Border Tunnel 4
SD Border Tunnel 5
The elevator at the tunnel's entrance
SD Border Tunnel 6
The tunnel featured a rail system along its length
SD Border Tunnel 7
Some of the elements used to build the tunnel's infrastructure
SD Border Tunnel 8
The end of the main tunnel

Tunnel extends more than 4,300-feet

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - A team of federal agents has uncovered the longest illegal border tunnel ever found along the southwest border.

Members of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force (SDTTF) first discovered the tunnel's entrance in late August of 2019. Subsequent investigation revealed it to be a record-breaker.

The tunnel has a total length of 4,309 feet. It starts in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an industrial area about a half-mile west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. It then travels north into the U.S. extending some 4,068 feet from the border.

In comparison, the second longest drug tunnel discovered the in the U.S. was 2,966 feet long. It was found in San Diego in 2014.

The tunnel is about five and a half-feet tall, and two-feet wide. It runs about 70-feet beneath the ground. It includes an extensive rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, and high-voltage electrical cables and panels. It also had an elevator at its entrace, and a complex drainage system.

“While subterranean tunnels are not a new occurrence along the California-Mexico border, the sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrates the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” said HSI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Cardell T. Morant.

An offshoot to the tunnel extended more than 3,500 feet into the U.S., but ended without breaching the surface.

Investigators say tunnels like these show how increased border security is forcing criminals underground, quite literally.

"“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge John W. Callery.

“The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels. And although the cartels will continue to use their resources to try and breach our border, the DEA and our partners on the Tunnel Task Force will continue to use our resources to ensure they fail, that our border is secure, and that tunnels like this are shut down to stem the flow of deadly drugs entering the United States.”

No arrests have yet been made in connection with the tunnel, but the investigation continues.

“I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” said Border Patrol Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke.

“The investigation continues, and I am confident that our hard work and dedication to uphold the law will lead to future arrests and
seizures.” said Heitke.

The SDTTF is an inter-agency unit made up of agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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