The DEA announced on Tuesday the results of the hard work conducted by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force (SDTTF). SDTTF uncovered a vast cross-border drug-smuggling tunnel that extends from Mexico into a warehouse in a commercial complex in the Otay Mesay area of San Diego.
SDTTF is comprised of federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, and the United States Attorney’s Office.
Transnational narcotics smuggling is not a new phenomenon for the task force. The Task Force had previously uncovered the longest known cross-border tunnel in the Southeast this past January. That tunnel, measured at 4,309 total feet (over three-quarters of a mile), was sophisticated, and featured 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.”
Working in cooperation with Mexican authorities, the SDTTF first located the San Diego tunnel’s entrance in Tijuana, Mexico, and used subsequently presented evidence to obtain a federal search warrant for the warehouse in San Diego. Execution of this warrant led to the discovery of the Otay Mesa exit point.
Seized from the tunnel was an estimated $29.6 million of mixed drugs including, “approximately 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 DEA, this mixed seizure is reportedly unique as it marks the first time in San Diego’s history where five different types of drugs were found inside a tunnel. The SDTTF’s estimates suggest that the tunnel had been in existence for several months. Like the tunnel discovered in January, this one also possessed advanced construction such as reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting, and an underground rail system.
DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery said in a statement:
“These tunnels show the determination of drug trafficking organizations to subvert our border controls and smuggle deadly drugs into our community. But these recent tunnel seizures also show the dedication of our amazing partners on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force to locate and shut down these tunnels to keep our communities safe. Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, DEA employees continue to work tirelessly to serve and protect the community.”
Counter-narcotics agencies, particularly the DEA, find themselves with no shortage of work following the White House’s recent charge of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and 14 current and former Venezuelan officials last week. In a Department of Justice press release, Maduro and other Venezuelan officials were charged with narco-terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking, and other criminal charges dating back 20 years.
An entire series could be written attempting to summarize the despicable and dastardly lengths the charged officials went in order to abuse their positions in their complex and widespread network of corruption, greed, and utter disregard for statecraft and common decency.
Thankfully, the DEA’s outstanding rewards for the charged conspirators’ arrests appear to be having some impact, with one alleged co-conspirator of Maduro having surrendered in Colombia in the past few days. The man, a former outspoken Maduro critic and retired Venezuelan army general, reportedly waived an extradition hearing and is being received by the DEA in New York to await prosecution.
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