Federal authorities discovered a sophisticated cross-border tunnel used to smuggle millions of dollars of drugs from Mexico, and nabbed six people accused of running the operation on the U.S. side, the government revealed Monday.
Homeland Security Investigations tipped to the operation after making a drug-smuggling arrest in March, then tracking the comings and goings from an address tied to that probe.
They saw people making multiple runs between the residence and a warehouse near the border in Otay Mesa, just south of San Diego, and began rounding up the drivers.
All told, they recovered nearly 800 kilograms of cocaine from the vehicles and the residence. That works out to a street value in the tens of millions of dollars.
They didn’t find drugs at the warehouse, but did find a tunnel carved into the concrete floor and connecting to Mexico.
Prosecutors said the tunnel ran more than 1,700 feet, went as deep as 61 feet, had a 4-foot diameter and reinforced walls and its own electricity, ventilation and a rail system to move the drugs quickly.
“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” said Randy Grossman, U.S. attorney for the southern district of California.
The discovery marked the first cross-border tunnel found in the San Diego are in more than two years.
Charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs were Mario Jaramillo, 55; Adrian Enriquez, 31; Manuel Perez, 49; Juan Cruz, 48; Vanessa Ramirez, 31; and Luz de Luna Olmos, 43.
In addition to the cocaine seized, authorities nabbed 164 pounds of methamphetamine and 3.5 pounds of heroin.
The tunnel was discovered Friday, though the charges were announced Monday.
Also last week, the federal government announced more than 100,000 Americans had died of drug overdoses in 2021. That was a new record, and was up 15% compared to the previous year.
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids accounted for most of those fatal cases, though cocaine deaths also saw a sharp increase.