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770 Yard Mexicali-Calexico Tunnel Discovered

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Mexicali Entrance to Tunnel

Three men were arrested Sunday in Mexicali, Baja California, after security forces discovered drugs and a border tunnel between the city and Calexico, California.

The men were arrested as they unloaded packages from a dump truck at a home located in the Santa Clara neighborhood about 130 meters from the border.

Upon further inspection, state police and soldiers found 460 grams of methamphetamine, along with an AK-47 assault rifle, and located an unfinished 700-meter-long tunnel inside the home. It led towards a commercial center in Calexico.

Police had initiated patrols in the area after they were tipped off to suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

They also found sacks containing soil in a bedroom of the house.

Officials believe the truck was being used to carry away the soil from the tunnel, which was one of the longest found in Baja California.

U.S. authorities discovered that tunnel in 2016 and seized US $1 million worth of marijuana and $22 million worth of cocaine.

The tunnel was equipped with ventilation, electricity and an elevator that could hold 10 people.

Officials said it was the first time on record that drug traffickers had built a house for the purpose of concealing a drug tunnel.

Manuel Gallegos Jiménez, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a San Diego court and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

This case of a tunnel follows a similar case concluded yesterday in a United States court.

A View of the Calexico to Mexicali Tunnel

An Acapulco man who operated a 415-yard drug tunnel that ran from a house in Calexico, Calif., to Mexicali, Baja, Mexico, was sentenced in a San Diego courtroom to 10 years in prison Monday.

Manuel Gallegos-Jimenez, 48, is charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Over 1,000 Kilograms of Marijuana, which he admitted to in court. When officers raided the operation in 2016, they seized $1.2 million worth of marijuana and $22 million worth of cocaine.

The tunnel exit was found in March 2016 in the front room of the three-bedroom, 2-bath house located at 902 E. Third Street. Agents found a hole in the floor covered with tile leading to a shaft descending underground. Inside, the tunnel had an elevator that could fit up to 10 people, ventilation and electricity. Gallegos-Jimenez oversaw the movement of the drugs from the tunnel and stored marijuana in another house three miles away on Horizon Street.

Traffickers purchased the property in 2015 for $240,000 – all under the watchful eye of law enforcement officers who monitored the construction and smuggling through intercepted calls and surveillance. It was the first time drug traffickers had purchased property and built a house for the specific purpose of concealing a drug tunnel.

Agents believe the traffickers began smuggling drugs through the tunnel in Feb. 2016. In April of that year, officers seized nearly 3,000 pounds of drugs.

Two other defendants, Joel Duarte-Medina, 43, and Eva-De Duarte, 74, have already been sentenced to 60 months and 595 days respectively. Defendants Kenneth Wayne Olmos, 33, and Bertha Lidia Esquivel, 52, await sentencing.

 

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