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Probe Underway After Exit to Border Tunnel Is Found

January 26, 2006|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation after finding a long, cross-border tunnel that began in a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, and was apparently used for smuggling drugs or people, authorities said Wednesday.

Federal agents discovered the U.S. exit to the tunnel Wednesday in an undisclosed location near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mack could not disclose more details, but said the tunnel appears to be longer than most of the 21 cross-border tunnels found in Arizona and California since Sept. 11, 2001.

"We've located a massive, spectacular tunnel," she said.

Four tunnels have been discovered in the San Diego area this month. Also Wednesday, a crudely built, unfinished tunnel was discovered when a border patrol agent ran over a sinkhole near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

"It was a gopher hole tunnel ... very primitive," Mack said.

Another unfinished tunnel was discovered last week a few miles east. That tunnel extended about 30 yards into the United States and appeared to be headed to a storm drain system.

Smugglers in recent years have tapped into storm drain systems in San Diego to bring migrants into the country.

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