U.S. border enforcement officials on Wednesday revealed the discovery of the longest tunnel ever discovered underneath the boundary with Mexico.
Federal law enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol officials revealed that the tunnel is located near the San Diego corridor.
“The tunnel originates in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an industrial area approximately one-half-mile west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry,” Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
“Following the discovery in late August 2019, Mexican law enforcement identified the tunnel entrance and members of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force (SDTTF) began mapping the tunnel from Mexico,” the agency continued.
“Concealed by a small industrial building, the tunnel travels north into the U.S. bending slightly west and extending an astonishing 4,068 ft. from the border, with a total length of 4,309 ft.; over three-quarters of a mile,” CBP added.
“The next longest tunnel in the U.S., discovered in San Diego in 2014, was 2,966 feet long.”
The agency noted further that the smuggling tunnel’s discovery was the result of “a challenging multi-year, inter-agency investigation, utilizing technology capabilities, intelligence gathering, and community outreach.”
Footage of the tunnel was broadcast by ABC News.
With a total length of 4,309 feet, authorities say they have discovered "the longest illicit cross-border tunnel" from Mexico to San Diego.
— ABC News
“I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling,” Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke said.
“I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” he added.
Cardell T. Morant, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego, noted that “subterranean tunnels” breaching the U.S.-Mexico border are not a new phenomenon.
But, he added, the tunnel discovered last August was sophisticated and took some planning to build.
“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,” Morant said.
“This discovery underscores the importance of the partnerships HSI has with the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), United States Border Patrol (USBP), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other regional agencies, as collaborative investigations and community outreach are key to combating this type of threat.”
CBP said the tunnel is about five-and-a-half-feet tall and two feet wide, with an average depth of 70 feet below ground.
“It includes an extensive rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a complex drainage system,” the agency added.
Border security experts believe more such tunnels are likely in the future as the Trump administration builds more secure fencing along the border.