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US, Mexico unearth new 'sophisticated' border drug tunnel

This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on October 31, 2013, shows a tunnel that crosses the US-Mexico border
This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on October 31, 2013, shows a tunnel that crosses the US-Mexico border

US and Mexican authorities have unearthed a "highly sophisticated" tunnel used to smuggle drugs beneath their common border, officials said Thursday, announcing the latest such find.

The tunnel, which is equipped with electricity, ventilation and rail tracks, was shut down Wednesday night after being discovered under the border between San Diego and near San Diego and Tijuana, just over the border in Mexico.

Three people were arrested, and authorities seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine, marking the first time cocaine has been recovered in connection with a local drug tunnel, said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

In Tijuana, a Mexican security source said the tunnel was 200 meters long and was accessed at the southern end by a metal stairway down to a depth of 20 meters.

The Mexican end of the tunnel was in a building about 80 meters from the border fence, according to the source, who requested anonymity.

"It is sophisticated," he said, explaining that drugs could be transported on rails on an electronically-controlled metal trolley.

Discoveries of such underground passageways along the US-Mexico border are not uncommon and authorities say they are used by organized crime groups to traffick drugs and people into the United States.

At least 70,000 people are estimated to have died in drug-related violence since 2006, when troops were deployed to battle drug cartels.

burs/mt/jm

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