SAN DIEGO – Two drug-smuggling tunnels with rail systems stretching hundreds of meters across the U.S.-Mexico border were discovered by law enforcement officials, and a 73-year-old woman was charged with helping run one operation, federal authorities said Friday.
No contraband was found in connection with the tunnels, which linked warehouses in Tijuana, Mexico, and the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
The first tunnel, stretching about 600 yards (548 meters), was discovered Tuesday. It was described as being equipped with lighting, a crude rail system and wooden trusses.
The entrance on the U.S. side is inside a warehouse where a cement cap covered a 70-foot (21-meter) shaft. A pulley system was installed to hoist goods into the building, which was filled with children’s toys and boxes of televisions.
The other tunnel, located Thursday, stretches more than 700 yards (640 meters) and was built with more sophisticated features — including a multitiered electric rail system and ventilation equipment.
On Wednesday, investigators with the San Diego Tunnel Task Force arrested Glennys Rodriguez from the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista.
The U.S. attorney’s office has charged her with conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises. It wasn’t immediately clear whether she had obtained an attorney.
The tunnels were the sixth and seventh found in the area in less than four years, ICE said.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said the discoveries foiled cartel plans to sneak large quantities of drugs across the border.
“Going underground is not a good business plan,” she said in a statement.
Other participants in the investigation include the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mexican law enforcement officials also assisted.
On Friday along the Arizona-Mexico border, federal authorities shut down an incomplete drug-smuggling tunnel in Nogales.
A task force developed information that a tunnel was being constructed inside a residence in Nogales, Sonora.
That’s just a few meters south of the international border fence near the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona.
Task-force members notified Mexican authorities, and they subsequently discovered the tunnel entrance in a backyard shed at the residence.
The tunnel is approximately 449 feet (136 meters) long with about 60 feet in Mexico and 389 feet in the U.S.
The tunnel is roughly 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and ends underneath a canyon just east of the Mariposa port.
No people or drugs were found inside the passageway, and no arrests have been made in the case, authorities said.