Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today urged Attorney General Michael Mukasey to make the investigation of cross-border tunnels -- used to smuggle drugs, guns, and people into the United States – a top enforcement priority.

In a letter, Senator Feinstein specifically urged Attorney General Mukasey to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security to aggressively enforce a new statute that provides for prosecution of anyone constructing or financing the construction of a cross-border tunnel. The legislation was authored by Senator Feinstein.

Senator Feinstein’s request follows the recent discovery of a sophisticated drug tunnel near the Tecate, California, Port of Entry.

Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter:

January 2, 2008


The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey
Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
Washington, DC  20530

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

As you begin this New Year at the Department of Justice, I want to highlight an important issue that I hope you will make an enforcement priority:  the investigation of cross-border tunnels used to smuggle drugs, guns, and people in and out of the United States.      

I was deeply troubled to learn of the discovery of yet another cross-border tunnel, this one approximately a quarter mile from the Tecate, California port of entry.  According to the San Diego Tunnel Task force, this is the 61st border tunnel discovered along the U.S. border since 9/11.  Agents found over 15,000 pounds of marijuana in a cargo container placed above the tunnel opening. 
It appears the number of cross-border tunnels is growing and they are becoming more sophisticated.  Since my visit to the Otay Mesa tunnel in February 2006, 34 more tunnels have been discovered, 27 in California alone.  This latest tunnel, found near Tecate, had electricity, plumbing, wood flooring and concrete steps.  The entrance measured about 3 feet by 3 feet and was reinforced with lumber and concrete. 

In the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act and in the 2007 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, I authored legislation that provides for the prosecution of any person who knowingly constructs or finances the construction of a cross-border tunnel.  In addition, any land owner who knows of or recklessly disregards the construction or use of such a tunnel now faces tough penalties.  Existing penalties for smuggling aliens, goods, controlled substances, weapons of mass destruction, or a member of a terrorist organization are doubled if a tunnel was used to facilitate the crime.  I trust that the Department of Justice, working with the Department of Homeland Security, will aggressively enforce the provisions of this new statute. 

I appreciate your consideration of these concerns.  I suspect that as enforcement of the border increases, border tunnels will continue to grow as a method for the transportation of human and illicit cargoes into our nation.  I look forward to working with you to ensure that we do not overlook this vulnerability in our nation’s security.  Best regards.

Sincerely yours,


Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator