Agents inside the tunnel
Agents inside the tunnel at the point of the small offshoot. Courtesy Border Patrol

The Border Patrol reported Wednesday it has uncovered a nearly three-quarter-mile-long narco tunnel from Tijuana to Otay Mesa — the longest tunnel yet found along the Southwest border.

“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 Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke.

Following the initial discovery of the tunnel entrance in late August by Mexican law enforcement, members of the task force began mapping the route of the tunnel.  It begins in a small industrial building in Tijuana and travels north into the United States, bending slightly west and ending in a warehouse district in Otay Mesa.

Its total length is 4,309 feet. The next longest tunnel, discovered in San Diego in 2014, was 2,966 feet long.

The new tunnel is approximately five and a half feet tall and two feet wide and lies at an average depth of 70 feet.  It includes an extensive rail system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a complex drainage system. There is a small offshoot tunnel inside the United States.

“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 Cardell T. Morant, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for San Diego.

The Border Patrol said no arrests or seizures have yet been made as a result of the discovery of the tunnel.

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force is an inter-agency unit consisting of agents from the Border Patrol, Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Chris Jennewein

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