New Details in Drug Tunnel Discovery at U.S./Mexico Border

Officials said this is the first time they’ve found cocaine in connection with a border tunnel

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    NEWSLETTERS

    US Customs and Border Protection
    The drugs allegedly uncovered in the tunnel were not the only narcotics found by federal investigators, court documents show.

    The people behind a new border tunnel stored illegal drugs in a Chula Vista warehouse almost 10 miles from the tunnel, federal agents allege in court documents.

    Three men charged in connection with the tunnel running from Tijuana to southern San Diego County will appear Tuesday in San Diego’s federal courthouse for a detention hearing.

    What's Next for Super Border Tunnel?

    [DGO] What's Next for Super Border Tunnel?
    NBC 7 was the first to give you an inside look at a drug tunnel discovered in Otay Mesa. Reporter Artie Ojeda went down inside the tunnel and shows us what it looks like and more on the impact it could have on drug smuggling operations. (Published Friday, Nov 1, 2013)

    Jose Arturo Mendoza, Juan Pena-Osuna and Roman Ramos-Romero face charges of illegal narcotic possession and intent to distribute stemming from their arrests last week.

    The so-called "super tunnel", revealed on Oct. 30, runs from a warehouse off Drucker Lane in Otay Mesa to another warehouse in Tijuana.

    According to court documents filed on October 31, federal investigators began their surveillance of the warehouse after an informant told them about a man who had acquired four demolition hammer drills  in August or September.

    Approximately 3 weeks later, investigators say they spotted that man near the warehouse at 9163 Siempre Viva Road.

    By watching the warehouse over the course of four days, investigators say they discovered a second warehouse at 1675 Brandywine Avenue in Chula Vista. The second location was more than 9 miles from the tunnel and just east of Interstate 805. 

    On Oct. 29, federal investigators stopped a white van carrying six suitcases with approximately 327 pounds of cocaine, according to the court documents.The van had left the Siempre Viva warehouse and was traveling around Otay Mesa, agents allege.

    Go Inside Border Super Tunnel

    [DGO] Go Inside Border Super Tunnel
    NBC 7's Artie Ojeda gives you exclusive access inside the so-called super tunnel at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Published Friday, Nov 1, 2013)

    Agents say defendant Jose Arturo-Mendoza was driving the van while Juan Pena-Osuna was driving nearby in a separate car.

    The next day, agents say they found defendant Roman Ramos Romero transporting 6,310 pounds of marijuana from the warehouse on Brandywine.

    Agents say they also found more than 2,600 pounds of marijuana at the Brandywine location.

    As for the underground tunnel, most of it - some 1500 feet - was cut on the U.S. side of the border, stretching only a few hundred feet into Mexico.

    Agents found more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine inside the tunnel, according to ICE. The drugs have an estimated street value of $6.5 million.