After years of investigation, the longest tunnel used for smuggling was discovered in the United States and Mexico border.
According to US officials, the tunnel's length is 1,313 meters. The underground passage begins in Tijuana, Mexico, about 76 meters away from the border and ends in Otay Mesa, a neighborhood around 24 kilometers south of San Diego, United States. The area in San Diego was selected as the ground is easily excavated while the presence of several warehouses makes hiding the underground passages feasible. The end of the facility was covered by numerous sandbags.
“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,” acting special agent in charge, Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), stated.
An offshoot of the main tunnel was also found but authorities stated it does not lead to an open surface.
The tunnel features many facilities such as elevators at its both ends, a ventilation system, electricity and rails. It is located 21 meters below the ground and it's about 1,65 meters tall and 0,6 meters wide.
The passage was initially found in August 2019, but the information was recently released. Authorities are utilizing Ground-penetrating radar (GPR), a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to map the subsurface of the ground, to detect underground structures, however, the sewage systems in San Diego is making the recognition very challenging.
Until now, no arrests associated with the smuggling tunnel have been made, however, a thorough investigation is currently underway. "I am confident that our hard work and dedication to uphold the law will lead to future arrests and seizures," US Customs and Border Protection Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke, stated.
It is not the first time that such tunnels have been discovered in the US-Mexico border. In 2018, a 180-meter tunnel connecting a closed KFC restaurant with Mexico was found. Similar cases include another facility that linked Mexico with a residence in California and an uncompleted tunnel with electricity and ventilation systems in Tijuana.
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