Posted on December 1, 2011

Big Border Drug Tunnel Highlights Seasonal Trend

Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, December 1, 2011


The secret passage linking warehouses in San Diego and Tijuana–equipped with a hydraulic lift, electric rail carts and a wooden staircase–highlights an emerging seasonal trend. For three years, authorities have found sophisticated tunnels on the U.S.-Mexico border shortly before the winter holidays in what officials speculate is an attempt by drug smugglers to take advantage of Mexico’s fall marijuana harvest.

Two weeks ago, authorities seized 17 tons of marijuana in connection with a tunnel linking warehouses in San Diego and Tijuana. Authorities began investigating that passage in June, according to court filings.

Tuesday’s find netted more than 32 tons of marijuana–nearly 17 tons at a warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa area, about 11 tons inside a truck in the Los Angeles area and 4 tons in Mexico. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it ranks as the second-largest pot bust in U.S. history if the drugs found on the Mexican side of the tunnel are counted and the third-largest without the Mexican stash.

As U.S. authorities heighten enforcement on land, tunnels have become an increasingly common way to smuggle enormous loads of marijuana. More than 70 passages have been found on the border since October 2008, surpassing the number of discoveries in the previous six years


It takes roughly six months to a year to build a tunnel, authorities say. Workers use shovels and pickaxes to slowly dig through the soil, sleeping in the warehouse until the job is done. Sometimes they use pneumatic tools.

The tunnel discovered Tuesday was about 40 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. {snip}


3 responses to “Big Border Drug Tunnel Highlights Seasonal Trend”

  1. June says:

    We never hear what happens to these tunnels when they’re discovered. I’d think a concrete truck could pull up and dump enough concrete in that no one could get through again. Put sensors on that would alert authorities when anyone even tried. Seems that the activity from the Mexican side would have drawn the attention of someone in authority. I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of these people. Any criminal activity is attacked with great vigor. Wouldn’t it be great if they used this mindset for helping their own countries and ignoring us? Their main thrust seems to be getting as much drugs and as many people into the US as possible. The first candidate who says, I’m putting the military on the border and sending every illegal home, has my vote, but there is always a catch. No one has that much courage any more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The remark by the Asst. U.S. Attorney that when tunnels are

    built, they will be discovered and destroyed seems aimed at the

    left half of the Bell Curve. The tunnels pay for themselves

    within , say, 72 hours of use. The cartels can afford to have

    on-going tunnel programs in anticipation of this state of affairs–a planned obsolescene, if you will. Both the U.S.

    Attorney and the cartels are opposed to legalization. They need

    each other. What a sick circus!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What to do with the tunnels after discovery? Leave them alone, except for booby-trapping the ever-living stuff out of them. Pretend they were not discovered. Allow the criminals to use them as they wish. After awhile, even the lowliest drones among their ranks will be terrified to step foot in a tunnel. If this were truly a “war” on drugs, this solution would help greatly.