By Elliot Spagat-Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP) â€” Investigators suspect a major drug cartel was the driving force behind two long, sophisticated tunnels connecting Mexico with the U.S. that were discovered this month along with more than 40 tons of marijuana.
Authorities said an underground passage located Thursday was similar to one found earlier â€” both running around 2,000 feet from Mexico to San Diego and equipped with lighting, ventilation, and a rail system for drugs to be carried on a small cart.
The tunnels are believed to be the work of Mexico‘s Sinaloa cartel, headed by that country’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, said Mike Unzueta, head of investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.
“We think ultimately they are controlled by the same overall cartel but that the tunnels were being managed and run independently by different cells operating within the same organization,” Unzueta said Friday.
The tunnel found Thursday is more than seven football fields in length and extends from the kitchen of a home in Tijuana, Mexico, to two warehouses in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial district.
U.S. authorities have discovered more than 125 clandestine tunnels along the Mexican border since the early 1990s, though many were crude and incomplete.
U.S. authorities do not know how long the latest tunnel was operating. Unzueta said investigators began to look into it in June on a tip that emerged from a large bust of marijuana, cocaine and methampethamine by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
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