U.S. authorities plug a massive cross-border tunnel in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (AP) – A federal contractor dumped cement in a 35-foot hole Tuesday to begin plugging the longest secret tunnel ever discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The massive tunnel discovered in January extended 2,400 feet from a warehouse near the Tijuana, Mexico airport to another warehouse in San Diego. It was lit, ventilated and went as deep as 90 feet.
The contractor – Western Foundations & Shoring Inc. of Lakeside, a San Diego suburb – dug a hole where the tunnel crossed the border and plugged that one section with cement at a cost of $15,000, said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security plans to eventually fill the entire U.S. portion of the tunnel – a passageway that runs the length of seven football fields under streets, sidewalks and other warehouses. Mack estimated it will cost $2 million.
U.S. authorities decided to fill the entire tunnel north of the border because there is a risk that streets might otherwise cave or that smugglers may use it to build other secret passages, Mack said.
More than two tons of marijuana were discovered inside the passage in January, authorities say.
Carlos Eugenio Cardenas Calvillo, 44, has been charged with conspiracy to import marijuana in connection with the tunnel. U.S. authorities say the Mexican citizen worked at the warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa neighborhood where the tunnel was discovered.
Authorities have discovered at least 39 secret tunnels on the U.S.-Mexico border since Sept. 11, 2001, the vast majority in and around San Diego and Nogales, Ariz., according to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office.
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