Border agents uncover elaborate smuggling tunnels - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Border agents uncover elaborate smuggling tunnels

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These images provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency show an agent examining one of two tunnels discovered April 1, 2014 in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial park. (AP Photo/ ICE) These images provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency show an agent examining one of two tunnels discovered April 1, 2014 in San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial park. (AP Photo/ ICE)

SAN DIEGO (CNS / CBS 8 ) - Federal agents unearthed two sophisticated smuggling tunnels linking Otay Mesa to Tijuana and jailed a Chula Vista woman who allegedly helped coordinate the illicit operations, authorities announced Friday.

Glennys Rodriguez, 73, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of overseeing logistics for one of the two subterranean passageways, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials reported.

Rodriguez is charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring to maintain a "drug-involved premises" and made her initial court appearance in the case on Thursday, according to the government agency.

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force on Tuesday discovered the first underground channel, its northern access point inside a warehouse filled with toys and televisions, at 10145 Via de la Amistad. It is 600 yards long and has a 70-foot shaft that was secured by a concrete cover.

Rodriguez's exact connection to the storehouse was unclear, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.

The second, more elaborate tunnel was found Thursday morning with help from Mexican officials who tracked leads generated from the first find. It surfaced about 800 feet from the other one inside a warehouse at 10005 Marconi Drive, stretching 700 yards and equipped with a multi-tiered electric rail system and ventilation equipment.

The two tunnels were the sixth and seventh cross-border smuggling passageways discovered in the San Diego area in less than four years.

"Here we are again, foiling cartel plans to sneak millions of dollars of illegal drugs through secret passageways that cost millions of dollars to build," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. "Going underground is not a good business plan. We have promised to locate these super tunnels and keep powerful drug cartels from taking their business underground and out of sight, and, once again, we have delivered on that promise."

No drugs were seized in connection with this week's busts, but more than 100 tons of narcotics associated with tunnels have been confiscated by authorities in the last four years.

According to a federal indictment, the Via de la Amistad warehouse was rented last May by a man who alternately identified himself as Rodriguez's boyfriend and fiance. During interviews with federal agents, the man said Rodriguez had selected the particular building to lease and provided the $1,729 monthly payments, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Months of surveillance of the facility turned up no evidence that any legitimate business was going on there, authorities said.

The suspect told investigators she owned a Chula Vista tax-preparation and immigrant-assistance company called G&R Services.

Friends and neighbors of Rodriguez expressed shock and disbelief over the allegations against the 73-year-old.

"She's a very likeable person," said Cathy Welsh, who has lived next to Rodriguez in a Chula Vista mobile home park for four years. "She's the vice president of our [community] association here. She's generous and everybody likes her."

Rodriguez told neighbors she would be in Los Angeles for a few days while she takes care of a friend who had been injured in a car accident, according to several neighbors.

No one in the community has reported seeing Rodriguez since Tuesday.

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