Raid of U.S.-Mexico Tunnel Leads to Arrests, Seizure of Drugs

HSI Special Agents photographing tunnel exit point during Calexico Tunnel Operation on March 23, 2016.
HSI Special Agents photographing tunnel exit point during Calexico Tunnel Operation on March 23, 2016.

Federal authorities raided a U.S.-Mexico tunnel on Wednesday as a part of a 16-month investigation that led to 4 arrests and seizure of just under 3,000 pounds of marijuana.

The tunnel runs about 415 yards from a restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico and ends in the living room of a three-bedroom house in a residential area of Calexico, CA , a border city east of San Diego.

This is the first “highly sophisticated and operational” tunnel discovered in Calexico in a decade, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI), which ran the operation.

This is also the first time that drug traffickers are known to have purchased property and built a house for the sole purpose of hiding a drug tunnel in the area, said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura Duffy.

“I’d emphasize that our investigation in this case is still very much ongoing, but preliminarily we believe the shuttering of this latest sophisticated smuggling tunnel has dealt a serious blow,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego in a statement.

The alleged traffickers scouted properties in the area before selecting the empty lot. The property sale was finalized in April 2015 for $240,000, according to ICE.

Around 6 a.m. this morning approximately 30 agents with HSI’s Special Response Teams raided the tunnel, taking the defendants into custody.

The front room of the house had a 3 foot-wide hole that lead to a shaft, which descended around 32 feet underground, connecting to the tunnel. The tunnel had lighting, electricity and a rail system.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Jack Date, Geneva Sands and Ashley Riegle