THIS WEEK, ANTI-drugs officers discovered a 600-yard tunnel used to shuttle drugs across the US-Mexico border.
The fully-finished secret passage was equipped with a hydraulic lift, electric rail carts and a wooden staircase.
Its discovery resulted in seizures of 32 tonnes of marijuana, one of the largest pot busts in U.S. history. The tunnel between warehouses in San Diego and Tijuana was equipped with lighting and ventilation. Wooden planks lined the floor about 40 feet underground.
“This is an incredibly efficient tunnel designed to move a lot of narcotics,” said Derek Benner, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s special agent in charge of investigations in San Diego said Wednesday.
Authorities recovered nearly 17 tonnes of marijuana at the warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa area, nearly 12 tonnes inside a truck in Los Angeles and about 4 tons in Mexico. Six people were charged in federal court in Southern California with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
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.
Many tunnels are clustered around San Diego, California’s Imperial Valley and Nogales, Arizona. California is popular because its clay-like soil is easy to dig. In Nogales, smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.
Slideshow: Inside the tunnel