Over the past four days, members of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force have unearthed two sophisticated smuggling tunnels linking Otay Mesa to Tijuana, leading to the arrest of a 73-year-old Chula Vista woman, authorities announced Friday.

Law enforcement officials inspect smuggling tunnel in Otay Mesa. Photo courtesy ICE

The woman, whose name was withheld, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of overseeing logistics for one of the two tunnel operations, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring with others to maintain a drug-involved premises, an ICE statement said.

The first tunnel was found Tuesday with an exit point inside a warehouse filled with children’s toys and televisions at 10145 Via De La Amistad. Authorities said it is 600 yards long and has a 70-foot shaft secured by a cement cover.

The second tunnel was found Thursday morning with help from Mexican officials who tracked leads generated from Tuesday’s tunnel discovery, authorities said, adding that the second tunnel is more sophisticated than the first and has an exit point inside a warehouse at 10005 Marconi Drive. That’s about 800 feet from the first tunnel on Via De La Amistad.

The second tunnel was described as stretching 700 yards and being equipped with a multi-tiered electric rail system and an array of ventilation equipment.

The two tunnels are the sixth and seventh cross-border passageways discovered in the San Diego area in less than four years.

“Here we are again, foiling cartel plans to sneak millions of dollars of illegal drugs through secret passageways that cost millions of dollars to build,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Going underground is not a good business plan. We have promised to locate these super tunnels and keep powerful drug cartels from taking their business underground and out of sight, and once again, we have delivered on that promise.”

No drugs were seized in connection with this week’s tunnel busts, but more than 100 tons of narcotics associated with tunnels have been seized by authorities in the last four years.

— City News Service

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.