MEXICALI, MEXICO — Eight men arrested on suspicion of constructing a drug tunnel have been formally charged with racketeering and smuggling, Mexican state and federal authorities say.
The men, one of whom was identified as a suspected Los Angeles-area gang member, were arrested this month inside a small house where the well-constructed passageway began. The tunnel, equipped with ventilation, electricity and a rail-and-cart system to ferry material and dirt, stretched 150 yards, ending within feet of the California border.
Mexican authorities say the sophisticated design suggests that a major drug cartel financed the project.
Drug trafficking in Mexicali is controlled by the Sinaloa-based cartel led by Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, but authorities have yet to determine whether the group was responsible.
The tunnel appeared destined for a quiet neighborhood in the Imperial Valley city of Calexico. In recent years, organized-crime groups have tried to build at least seven tunnels in the Calexico-Mexicali area, taking advantage of flat terrain and dense cross-border neighborhoods.