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November 30th, 2010
08:54 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Inside a New Border Drug Tunnel

U.S. agents weigh marijuana seized from a tractor-trailer in San Diego, California, last Thursday.
U.S. agents weigh marijuana seized from a tractor-trailer in San Diego, California, last Thursday.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360° Anderson reports from inside the newest drug tunnel discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border, just south of San Diego.

Just like other tunnels found in the area in recent years, this is a sophisticated one with lighting and ventilation. Though, Anderson noticed some other things not seen in some of the other tunnels: wood walls and flooring and even rail carts used to move drugs.

What's also interesting is the southern starting point of the tunnel in Tijuana, Mexico. Anderson will take you inside the kitchen of a home where there is a 4 foot by 3 foot hole with a ladder leading into the tunnel. Inside the home there are also two rooms filled floor-to-ceiling with hundreds of dirt bags. As you might guess, the dirt was removed when the drug tunnel was built. They didn't want to discard the dirt in a dumpster. Instead they piled it up inside the house.

Once you climb down the ladder in the kitchen the tunnel covers a half-mile or about seven football fields into two Southern California warehouses.

Since the tunnel was discovered on Thanksgiving Day, authorities in the U.S. and Mexico have arrested at least eight suspects and seized up to 30 tons of marijuana. Last Thursday, authorities noticed a tractor-trailer arriving at one of the warehouses in Southern California. As the truck headed north, investigators followed it. When the truck stopped at a border patrol checkpoint in Temecula, California, about an hour north of San Diego, authorities said they found the truck stuffed with 27,000 600-pound packages of marijuana.

The agents also found huge packages of marijuana inside the tunnel and up to four tons of the drug inside the home in Mexico. Again, a total of up to 30 tons of pot discovered and  linked to this one tunnel.

"This is obviously not a Mom and Pop operation," said Michael Unzuetta, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. "This discovery again shows the cartels' growing desperation in the face of beefed up border security and the costly extremes these organizations are trying in an effort to avoid detection," he added.

Join us for more on this story and tonight's other big stories at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. joe

    leave that pot alone.. ot the synthetic kind will warp our kids minds..

    December 1, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  2. Dale

    Stop wasting our tax dollars on Marijuana smugglers,growers and smokers.Marijuana can and will! get this State and our Country out of this mess we are in. If you take the Marijuana seized today and sell it! California"s Debt of 5 billion dollars would be gone with money left over!!! Come On People..............Think about it!!!

    December 1, 2010 at 5:46 am |
  3. Cindy Molina

    I am not surprise of this crazyness happening, but what is the government doing about it. Ok yes they got 2 great bust this month, but when will they actually do something to stop all the tunnels being built. Great job on the report AC!!

    December 1, 2010 at 2:16 am |
  4. Jose

    Anderson, I literally live a mile away from the Otay border where the this tunnel is located and it's a shame to see that with our technology we locate these after the fact. We as a country are more focused as to what comes in, which we should, but did anyone stop to think of all the guns and artillery that was smuggled into Mexico to have these cartels basically run-a-muck as they please. I'm just looking at the big picture.

    December 1, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  5. Shelley

    Thanks for a good story Anderson They must have been smoking dope when they built it! Its great to see protection of our border in so many different ways.. And oh by the way nice job walking that tunnel You wouldn't catch me in one.

    December 1, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  6. NORMA

    I Was Born In Mexico, I Crossed the border many times Thru otay border. Many-time I Pass Those empty Warehouse & I always Wonder...... I'm Embarrassed of all those people. I Love Mexico, But I Love & Respect This Country. Good jobs on stopping that.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  7. R.Atkinson

    If the cartels are willing to spend, and potentially lose, $1-2 million dollars per tunnel because that’s small change compared to the total amount that passes through their hands, then they must be pulling down one heck of a lot of money! And I doubt their entire business rides on just one tunnel. There’s got to be at least another one, if not more, around somewhere, so double or triple all those figures.

    Given that this massive amount of cash is currently lost to the legitimate, above ground economy, what is the point of continually segregating this income from the mainstream economy and segregating the users out of mainstream society? It’s as useful or beneficial to the whole now as it was in the 1920’s. All it does is create Al Capone like violence and needlessly cost lives and money, adding problems that need not be.

    Think of the tax revenue 20 tons of pot would bring in. Now imagine how much pot gets smoked annually and multiply that 20 tons times 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000? Where’s the value in letting so much money go when we have so many problems that need so much money? Just like ending Prohibition in 1933 did, legalizing pot and taxing it would solve more problems that keeping it illegal and underground causes.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  8. Suleman

    when will you do a story on the real issue? the criminalization of marijuana in the US and the subsequent "war on drugs"

    prohibition leads to violence

    November 30, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  9. james albaugh

    Two quick coments on the tunnels. One, these tunnels are being made by either drilling or jack hammering. both of these methods are detectable with a seismograph, what is the problem in catching these people, either making the tunnel or the movement of the drugs, money an arms?

    also, how far are the digs from the pacific ocean? would it not make sense to flood these tunnels with sea water?

    November 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  10. John

    Marijuana should be legalized. Wouldn't that be an obstacle to the drug cartels? I also think these news reports are disingenuous. 1st it says 30 tons, then it says 27,000 600 lb. bags were found! That's 7800 tons! I don't smoke marijuana anymore. But it should not be a crime.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  11. J

    Who cares about a marijuana drug bust? first off it should be legal since it can be planted. secondly we (US)care more about marijuana than we do ctystal meth, cocaine, crack, prescription drugs etc. the real drug problems. make a bust on those drugs and that will keep peeple from killing themselves and others. tobacco kills about 750,000 people a year and it's legal!?!? marijuana kills how many a year??? 0 We (US)allow people to be killed by continuing to make this PLANT not drug illegal. all of this money being spent on the border and our grandparents can't even get decent healthcare. The US has always found ways to ignore the important issues for personal and political gain. God Bless America huh??

    November 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  12. tolbert

    30,000+ people have died in Mexico in the last three years in the battle to supply the US with drugs. Airhead celebrities who are sentenced to rehab for drug use should instead be tried for accessory to first degree murder.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  13. justaguy

    What a complete waste of resources and tax payer money it is to take these guys down. All for a seizure of marijuana? A substance that's safer than alcohol? When will the government end the war on its citizens for choosing a substance safer than tobacco and alcohol?

    To simply put it, when we saw that prohibition on alcohol didn't work. (when alcohol is far more dangerous than MJ)

    Why continue trying prohibition? Lets learn from our mistakes. Learn from history.

    And remember, we're adults. Is it really the government's place to decide what we can an can't put in our bodies? There are much better solutions than prohibition. Especially a drug that is considerably less harmful than alcohol, and it's not even addictive!!

    November 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  14. Micah

    Guess what A.C. Were still all going to continue smoking our weed.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  15. Rob

    When are you and other media going to address the real issue? These expensive and sophisticated structures and systems are only possible because of the huge profits to be made. America has a drug problem that is supporting the economies of countless countries around the world.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  16. Carol Dulcamara

    Isn't one of the main duties of the president, to secure our borders? It would be cost efficient, and successful if our US troops were stationed on the border. Having troops in Afganistan is a lose lose proposition. Men are losing their lives . . . for nothing and it cost millions of dollars. It would be a boost to our economy, and our mounting debt if our Army patrolled the border. We have enough men to string them from Brownsville to Tiajuana. It seems like a common sense plan, a simple solution to many problems. Why isn't that idea ever discussed?

    November 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  17. LOU

    ANDERSON, WHO DRESSED POOR FRED BURTON FOR THE SHOW TONIGHT. THINK HE MIGHT BE IN SERIOUS NEED OF YOUR MOM'S ASSISTANCE. POOR SOLE, IF HE NEEDS SOMETHING MATCHING I HAVE NO PROBLEM DONATING.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  18. Dennis @techmover_asia

    As a Surveillance professional for many years
    I have to raise the question:
    What does Boeing a aerospace company know about Surveillance?

    November 30, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  19. Dorothy

    I have never personally been very interested in marijuana. (I don't smoke tobacco, and maybe the last time I smoked pot was probably more than 25 years ago – never was sure if I inhaled the right way. Was just of average sociability for my generation.)

    That said; when I see all of the effort that goes into the illegal marijuana trade all I can think of is; Why don't they legalize it?....... Why doesn't the government legalize it?

    There are too many other problems – the health care mess is just one. There are real problems.

    Anyone who has just been around observing life has to conclude that marijuana shouldn't be categorized as a major problem. Although maybe I didn't inhale all of the way – I don't see that pot is much different from drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking cigarettes. To a none smoker tobacco probably seems worse. When will that become illegal?

    Making pot legal would solve a lot of problems and create a tax windfall. Wouldn't it? Why don't they put the effort into stopping really dangerous drugs? If pot were legalized they could put the tax profit into decent health insurance coverage for everyone!!!!!!!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  20. axiles

    why dont you Anderson say why ALL these drug wars are made with 99 percent US guns and for 100 percent us dollars and to supply all the US demand.The US should concentrate on all their addicts

    November 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  21. Joy

    Anderson, in your interview with the ICE agent, you were congratulatory and complimentary, but unfortunately you failed to ask the most important question. Since drug trafficking is a problem of supply and demand, the most critical question is: What sustainable impact does a drug bust–even one that yields 21 tons of marijuana–have on the supply or demand for drugs? Forty years of conviscating drugs is proof positive that the answer to this most critical question above: ABSOLUTELY NONE!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  22. Dewey

    I am glad that they found this tunnel,Mr. Cooper would it be wrong for the U.S to close it's border with Mexico? my mind is a Heck no and don't let anyone from there cross what so ever. I watch Border Wars every chanch I get and if I was Younger I would be there guarding this nation myself, they are already taking all of the construction jobs as well.. we as a nation need to stop this invasion of our way of living. I can't even get to see a DR. with out 2-3 hundred dollers in my pocket and if I was mexican it would be free, no questions asked ......... TAKE BACK AMERCIA OUR WAY!!!!!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  23. doug

    i think the whole mexian drug thing is a joke ,when u have doctors and drug companies in this country which is a trillion dollar a year drug business,doctors are able to perscribe people with neck pain oxycotin,and they all end up in pain clinics which is another heath care racket 4 junkies who are on legal drugs,but u never see that on the news isnt that a joke,and most of those people turn into junkies because a 12 dollar bag of herion is cheaper ,and i think most of the legal drugs are derived from opium any way,u know why its not on the news because its legal drug dealing and it is a trillion dollar a year or more business,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  24. Luz

    It's nice to turn on the TV and not hear yelling or things that are not important or that are not news at all be discussed for hours...or days!

    Great story! To me this is very important to hear about rather than bipartisan bickering...

    And also – it's nice to hear a confirmation that Don't Ask Don't Tell (yet again) should be abolished!

    Thank you Anderson and crew! Keep bringing us real news

    (side note–please try to avoid having people argue/talking over eachother instead of talking like adults-it's not 'news' it's annoying)

    November 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  25. Karlos Miguel

    US needs a DMZ between itself & Mexico. US military needs to be stationed there to protect our people, not in Korea or Iraq.
    The corruption in Mexico & Latin America is so systemic, so ingrained into the culture, that those societies will continue as third world entities. Only our rule of law here in the US sustains us. With the challenges of hordes of illegal aliens streaming across our porous border, along with the violence of cartel criminal armies, we need to accept that we need to protect & defend ourselves. The second war between the US & Mexico has already begun. Remember the Alamo!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  26. Dennis @techmover_asia

    the whole issue of gays in the military is just
    ridicules. straight Men and Women don't always tell others there sexual interests with their partners. If the 'right' does not want openness
    in the Military, have them send more of there straight kids into harms-way...
    Live and Let Live....

    November 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  27. Bruce Manko

    Removing the Drugs from the tunnel on Thanksgiving Day. Hmmmmm. Kind of like unstuffing the turkey. Good job guys.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  28. Kimba

    Okay, I get it. I understand the DEA's concern with major drug trafficking and the pebble in the pond effect. However I don't understand why they aren't placing more focus on the crystal meth labs and problem that has tainted every corner of this country. I am much, much, much more concerned with the meth tweekers, and people cooking up meth and selling it to them, than I am with anything marijuana-related. Put the two in a room (okay maybe separate rooms for safety's sake)- a dope smoker and a meth junkie- and observe. Maybe you won't get a speedy or direct answer out of a dope smoker, but at least you'll walk away from your encounter with him/her alive and not fearing for your life.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  29. Cathyann Bassett

    I was watching your broadcast on the tunneling done by the Mexican cartel and I found myself holding my breath. It looked so claustrophobic that I was awed at your perseverance. Great reporting. One can only imagine the millions of dollars made by these cartels on the appetite of pot smoking Americans.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  30. SouthJerseyMatt

    Legalize drugs. And these tunnel builders would been getting margaritas for tourists at a resort in Baja.
    Would you really start doing drugs tomorrow if they became legal? Arent you a good enough parent
    to teach your children the possible consequences of injesting mind altering substances? Until we
    can stop a seed from germinating in soil, "drugs" will be on earth, like they always have been.
    And they will be here when humans are gone. How many more lives and resources will be wasted
    on this impossible war?

    November 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  31. Dennis @techmover_asia

    worried about sandbags?
    What about all those
    cinder blocks? looked like enough to build a two car garage..

    November 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  32. Sue R. Canton MI.

    Good evening everyone.
    Looking forward to the show tonight.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  33. Heather - Spokane, WA

    Evening Anderson and everyone. We have almost 4 ft of snow here right now and it's still snowing...yuck!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  34. Annie Kate

    This tunnel sounds almost sophisticated with the carts to move the drugs, etc. The dirt stacked in the house though – I suppose no one lives there. I wouldn't want dirt stacked in my house. Looking forward to seeing this tunnel. Makes all the others Anderson has crawled around in sound rudimentary.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm |