SAN DIEGO — An exit point to a sophisticated, cross-border tunnel that federal officials described as “fully operational” was discovered early Friday in a warehouse, leading to six arrests and about 1,762 pounds of cocaine seized.
The tunnel stretches from a home in Tijuana, Mexico, to the warehouse in San Diego, federal officials said.
“It’s estimated to be about 1,744 feet long, 61 feet deep, with a diameter of about 4 feet at its widest point,” said Randy Grossman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “It has reinforced walls, a rail system, and electricity for ventilation.”
The warehouse is located about 300 feet north of the U.S.-Mexico border, just east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. “For lease” signs can be seen posted outside of the warehouse.
Grossman credited “good old-fashioned police work” for the discovery. He said law enforcement officials with the Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) were surveilling a residence in National City before the discovery. He said that the residence was used as a stash house in a cocaine smuggling incident back in March, where one person was arrested and approximately 61 pounds of cocaine were seized.
“In a span of a few hours, agents watched five vehicles come and go from the stash house and this warehouse, we allege that the defendants were driving into the garage and loading or dropping off cardboard boxes full of drugs to further the movement or distribution of drugs throughout the United States, the federal agents were watching the whole time,” said Grossman.
He said the vehicles, stash house, and warehouse were searched, resulting in the arrests and seizure of boxes of drugs.
“Today, we charged six people with conspiracy to distribute more than 1,750 pounds of cocaine smuggled into the United States, two of the six defendants were also charged with trafficking methamphetamine and heroin,” said Grossman.
The six arrested were identified as Mario Jaramillo from Huntington Beach; Adrian Enriquez from Perris; Manuel Perez from San Diego; Juan Cruz from San Ysidro; Vanessa Ramirez from San Diego; and Luz de Luna Olmos from San Diego.
Officials could not say how long the tunnel has existed or whether the warehouse was used for anything else.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since 1993 there have been 90 subterranean passages discovered in the Southern District of California, with 27 considered to be “sophisticated”.
Before this latest discovery, the last tunnel found in the Southern District was in March 2020.
This story was first reported by Mimi Elkalla at KGTV in San Diego.