Two drug smuggling tunnels were found near the Otay Mesa area of San Diego/Tijuana border this week, stretching hundreds of yards linking warehouses in both cities. The tunnels included a rail system and were discovered by US and Mexican authorities. While no contraband was found in the tunnels, a 73-year-old woman was arrested Friday by federal agents for suspicion of running the operation.
On Tuesday, the first discovered tunnel was discovered and had a lighting system and a rail system which stretched 600 yards between Tijuana and San Diego and ended in a warehouse that was reportedly filled with boxes of televisions and children’s toys. There was an opening covered by a concrete cap which was removable by a pulley mechanism that was used to load product into the building.
The second tunnel was discovered on Thursday and stretched for over 700 yards between Mexico and the United States. This second tunnel was more sophisticated with an electric rail system and ventilation equipment.
The woman who was arrested, Glennys Rodriguez is from the city of Chula Vista, the second largest city in San Diego County, not far from where the tunnels were found in Otay Mesa and is being charged with conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises. Rodriguez alleged that she runs a small business that does taxes and administers immigration services despite evidence that proves otherwise.
Rodriguez is currently the only person involved that is facing charges, but the investigation names several names of others who are involved in the operation including a man who has been caught constructing tunnels between Mexico and the United States before.
An agent involved in the discovery stated that the amount of drugs that were transported though the tunnels is unknown, but William Sherman, the DEA’s lead agent in San Diego said that these discoveries, ceased a several million dollar contraband running operation and have turned it into little more than a huge waste of money for the cartels involved and that the goal of these operations is not only to shut down these tunnels before they establish operations, but to bring the people involved to justice.
Laura Duffy, an US Attorney stated that these discoveries by US and Mexican officials spoil the plans of cartels to smuggle large quantities of drugs into the United States from Mexico in tunnels that cost millions of dollars to build, saying that, “Going underground is never a good business plan,” She further remarked that the Feds have delivered on their promise to discover and shut down these elaborate systems before the substances reached the United States.
Derek Benner who is in charge of Homeland Security Investigations said that the discovery of the tunnels reaffirms the vigilance and hard work of the multi-agency task force that works on these cases and that while technology does play an important role in these investigations, “old-fashioned detective work” often is key in these discoveries and it was key in this one as well.
These tunnels mark the number six and number seven tunnels found in the San Diego area in four years, and over 80 found in California and Arizona since 2006. US authorities have seized several millions of dollars in illegal substances since then in San Diego. On friday, Federal authorities discovered and shut down an incomplete tunnel along the Arizona/Mexico border.
By Nathaniel Pownell
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