U.S. and Mexican authorities discover drug tunnel in Mexicali

A  subterranean tunnel in Mexicali shows an electric hoist
A sophisticated subterranean tunnel was discovered last week in Mexicali, Mexico, near the international border. The tunnel had been equipped with electricity, ventilation, a rail system with a cart and an electric hoist.
(U.S. Homeland Security Investigations)

U.S. federal authorities are investigating the discovery of a sophisticated, 183-foot tunnel that started inside a home in Mexicali, Mexico, near the international border.

The unfinished tunnel extended three feet north of the international border wall into Calexico in Imperial County but did not have an exit on the U.S. side of the border, according to Homeland Security Investigations.

The 3-by-4-foot shaft — ostensibly meant to smuggle drugs, people or weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border — has electricity, ventilation, a rail system with a cart and an electric hoist. It is nearly 22 feet below ground level.

The entrance to the underground tunnel
The entrance to the tunnel inside a home in Mexicali, Mexico.
(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations)

“These types of tunnels enable drug traffickers to conduct illicit activities virtually undetected across the U.S.–Mexico border,” Cardell Morant, special agent in charge of HSI San Diego, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the federal agency said he could not identify which trafficking organization dug the tunnel. The HSI-led investigation is being assisted by the El Centro Sector Border Patrol and the Mexican government.

Mexican federal authorities assisted HSI special agents with obtaining access to the Mexicali home, where they discovered the entrance to the tunnel, measuring 10 feet by 12 feet.


Last May, Mexican investigators seized illegal marijuana from an unfinished tunnel discovered inside a Tijuana home across the border from Otay Mesa in San Diego — a preferred spot for tunneling because of the soil consistency and ability to blend in with the busy warehouse district’s traffic. It was being constructed no more than 50 feet from a National Guard base that opened last year, meant to increase security and combat drug trafficking in Tijuana.

Fry writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.