CALEXIO, Calif. – The owner of the house in Calexico where the cross-border drug tunnel opening was discovered was arrested Thursday in Tucson, Arizona, federal officials said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents nabbed Enrique Cruz, also known as "Tinky," a day after a multi-agency investigation resulted in the discovery of a drug tunnel that linked a restaurant in Mexicali to a Calexico residence.
According to a criminal complaint, Cruz traveled from Arizona to Calexico on multiple occasions at the end of 2014 to look for property that would serve as the exit point of a tunnel from Mexicali. Cruz ultimately purchased the property at 902 E. Third Street in Calexico.
In addition to purchasing the property, Cruz and his coconspirators hired local contractors to build a new house.
Contractors were instructed to leave a space in the foundation for a "floor safe," federal officials said.
According to court documents, Cruz rented a walk-behind saw and concrete blade on January 27, 2016, to widen the exit point of the tunnel."
It is the first time in this district that drug traffickers are known to have purchased property and constructed a house for the sole purpose of concealing the exit of a drug tunnel, federal agents said.
Agents executed three search warrants each for the Calexico home, another residence where traffickers would stash marijuana, and a warehouse. In all, agents found 3,000 pounds of marijuana during their searches.
Cruz and three other people were arrested and face charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.