Thursday, November 4

Improved response from Mexican army allows seizure of drugs on both sides of drug tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego

Filed from San Diego, November 4, 2010 by Richard Marosi reporting for Los Angeles Times:
San Diego-to-Tijuana drug tunnel uncovered; 25 tons of pot seized U.S. officials raid a San Diego-area warehouse and find a lighted, ventilated passageway 4 feet high and 1,800 feet long crossing into Mexico. Drugs were found in warehouses on both sides of the border.
The ... passageway — roughly equivalent to six football fields in length — isn't the longest or the most sophisticated ever built, but it is one of the few instances in which authorities were able to seize drugs on both sides of the border.

The scale of the operation pointed to the work of a major Mexican drug cartel, authorities said, and comes two weeks after Mexican authorities discovered a record 134 tons of marijuana in an industrial area near Tijuana. Officials don't know if there is a connection between the two events, but called this week's discovery another significant blow against organized crime groups.

Authorities estimated the drugs' worth at more than $20 million.
Officials said the tunnel was only 4 feet high by 3 feet wide. The toil and financing required for such an undertaking was further evidence that above-ground enforcement efforts are forcing cartels to extreme measures to get their drugs across the border, officials said.

The tunnel is one of the few unearthed in recent years that was fully operational. Authorities estimate operators had been smuggling drugs through it for less than one month. About 75 tunnels along the U.S.-Mexico border have been unearthed in the last four years, most of them in various states of construction.

The operation was also notable because of the quick response by Mexican authorities. In past cases, their less-than-prompt actions have allowed tunnel operators in Mexico to clear out the drugs. This time they reacted immediately, which authorities said reflects the much-improved levels of cooperation from security forces in Tijuana, which are led by army Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica.

"The Mexicans moved as quickly as we did," Morton said. "It was an example of the coordination needed to be successful."
Report has details on how the tunnel was discovered.

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