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Drug tunnel mix-up could have turned deadly, agents say

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OTAY MESA — Members of the Border Patrol Union say a ‘miscommunication’ at the U.S. end of a recently discovered trans-border drug tunnel could have ended in a blood bath.

TScreen Shot 2014-04-28 at 11.14.20 PMhe incident took place at around 9 p.m. at the site of an underground drug tunnel that Homeland Security investigators uncovered couple of days earlier in Otay Mesa. Border Patrol Agents who were standing guard detected movement inside the tunnel and called for back up. The agents say they saw a group of armed men dressed in camouflage uniforms headed toward them.

“The agents asked if they were with the Mexican military, and they did not identify themselves,” said Gabe Pacheco, with the Border Patrol Union.

Pacheco said a standoff ensued and the group eventually retreated without agents ever learning who they were. “It could’ve been the cartel,” he added.

Homeland Security officials confirmed the group was aMexican military patrol sent to measure the length of the tunnel.

“At 9:30 in the evening, you’re going to come in and measure a tunnel?” Pacheco asked. He said the timing and the fact the group wouldn’t identify itself were suspicious.

A Homeland Security spokewoman Lauren Mack told Fox 5 the incident was caused by a miscommunication between the Mexican military and U.S. officials, and that the agency is still trying to figure out exactly how it happened.

“It is not unusual for the Mexican military to conduct it’s own investigations. We addressed the coordination issue.  We’ve had some meetings and some discussions in an attempt to try to prevent misunderstandings like this from occuring in the future,”  Mack said.

“This miscommunication could have gotten someone killed,” said Pacheco.

Homeland Security officials in San Diego said no one was hurt and that the situation remained under control the entire time, describing it as a non-incident.

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