U.S. authorities announced the discovery of a nearly 1,800-foot long cross-border narcotics tunnel on Friday that stretched from Tijuana, Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa.
The subterranean passageway was an estimated 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep, and 4-feet in diameter, with reinforced walls, a rail system, electricity, and a ventilation system, according to U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman.
The tunnel was connected to a warehouse approximately 300 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border fence at 9986 Via De La Amistad, Unit A, in San Diego.
“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” Grossman said. “We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities.”
Six were charged with conspiring to distribute 1,762 pounds of cocaine, including Mario Jaramillo of Huntington Beach; Adrian Enriquez of Perris; Juan Cruz of San Ysidro; and Vanessa Ramirez, Luz de Luna Olmos, and Manuel Perez of San Diego.
Authorities additionally seized 164 pounds of methamphetamine and 3.5 pounds of heroin from the tunnel. Olmos and Ramirez are also charged with methamphetamine and heroin trafficking.
Law enforcement officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) discovered the tunnel on Friday shortly after midnight while conducting surveillance on a National City residence. That residence was used as a stash house on March 2, resulting in the arrest of one person and the seizure of 28 Kilograms of cocaine.
According to the federal complaint, officials observed Olmos and Ramirez drive away from that National City residence in a silver Nissan Frontier pickup truck at about 11:45 a.m. to Harbor Freight Tools store in Chula Vista. The pair retrieved large cardboard boxes from a dumpster and then entered the store to purchase wheeled carts typically used to move heavy items.
The women returned to the residence and unloaded the pickup truck. Olmos departed from the residence at around 1:20 p.m. to a Walmart store, where she purchased additional cardboard boxes and transported them back to the residence.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., Ramirez drove the pickup away from the residence to a warehouse, driving back to the residence nearly two hours later. Arrests and drug seizures eventually came after continued surveillance.
Since 1993, authorities have discovered 90 underground passages in Southern California. Law enforcement categorizes 27 of those as sophisticated.
The last cross-border tunnel discovered in Southern California was on March 19, 2020, by federal agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force. The tunnel extended more than 2,000 feet from a warehouse in Tijuana to a warehouse in Otay Mesa. Federal agents seized about 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana, and more than two pounds of fentanyl.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the estimated street value of the drugs was $29.6 million.
HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz said that the law enforcement community in San Diego has multiple investigative task forces that highly prioritize tunnel detection.