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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Bust Calexico-Mexicali Pot Tunnel

CALEXICO, Calif. (CN) - The owner of a house where hundreds of law enforcement officers discovered a tunnel to Mexico on Wednesday has been arrested in Tucson, the Justice Department said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took Enrique "Tinky" Cruz into custody in Tucson on Thursday. He will be arraigned in Federal Court in Arizona on narcotics trafficking, money laundering and tunnel-related crimes before being transferred to San Diego, the Justice Department said.

On Wednesday, about 100 local, state and federal law enforcement officers seized the 415-yard tunnel running from Cruz's house to the El Sarape restaurant in Mexicali. Agents seized nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested five people including Cruz.

According to a criminal complaint, Cruz traveled from Arizona to Calexico several times in 2014 to look for a suitable property to construct a tunnel between the United States and Mexico. He purchased property and built a house in 2015, which the Justice Department said was the first time in the Southern District of California drug traffickers have gone to such lengths to conceal the U.S. end of a drug tunnel.

Construction was completed in December 2015 "under the watchful eye of Homeland Security Investigation agents in Calexico," the Justice Department said.

Earlier this month, Homeland Security agents seized 1,350 pounds of marijuana that had been smuggled through Cruz's tunnel and transported to a warehouse in Los Angeles - kicking off the bust that culminated Wednesday, the Justice Department said.

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