Updated at 4:45 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22

Nearly two dozen suspected drug traffickers were in custody Thursday following the discovery of a well-appointed tunnel stretching nearly a half-mile underneath the U.S.-Mexico border between warehouses in Otay Mesa and Tijuana.

Authorities from the United States and Mexico raided the narcotics-smuggling operation Wednesday night, just hours after the newly completed subterranean passageway went into use for the first time, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

Agents arrested 16 suspects in Mexico and six in the United States, and confiscated about 12 tons of marijuana, Duffy told reporters.

The roughly 800-yard-long tunnel — one of the largest found along the southern U.S. border in recent years — had been outfitted with ventilation, electric lighting and rails for moving contraband. Its northern point of access was inside a storehouse in the 2500 block of Otay Center Drive.

The discovery came at the conclusion of a six-month multi-agency undercover investigation, Duffy told news crews this afternoon during a briefing in front of Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building in downtown San Diego.

— City News Service

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