Some Guy Tried to Smuggle Drugs Across the US-Mexico Border Through an Underwater Tunnel

After Evelio Padilla-Zepeda washed up across the boarder near a canal in Southern California, authorities unearthed the 150-foot-long tunnel and 55 pounds of coke.

by River Donaghey
Aug 20 2015, 8:05pm

​ Evelio Padilla-Zepeda. Photo via the US Department of Justice.

A 28-year-old man who washed up on the shore of a canal in California with dozens of pounds of cocaine pleaded guilty to distribution charges on Wednesday—but not before his arrest led authorities to a 150-foot-long underwater tunnel used to smuggle drugs from Mexico to the US, the AP reports.

Evelio Padilla-Zepeda, a Honduran national, apparently thought he would be smuggling people from a house in Mexicali, Mexico across the boarder to the US. But when he arrived at the house, Padilla-Zepeda was surprised to learn that he would instead be transporting roughly $1.8 million worth of cocaine into California.

According to the local NBC affiliate, that's where Border Patrol found him, walking along the All-American Canal near Calexico, California, decked out in a full scuba wetsuit, with a breathing tank, a "rebreather" designed to hide air bubbles from the water's surface, and 55 pounds of cocaine, gift-wrapped in Toy Story wrapping paper.

After Padilla-Zepeda's arrest, investigators discovered the underwater tunnel that ran from the Southern California canal, across the border, and ended at a house in Mexicali. Apparently, smugglers would take the drugs down the dry, Mexico side of the tunnel, then drop the stash near a hidden opening where one lucky mule would pick it up, strap on a scuba mask, and start swimming.

No word yet on who built the tunnel or how many people are involved in the operation. For now, Padilla-Zepeda faces up to 20 years in prison.

Looking for more in-depth coverage on tunnels? VICE has you covered:

Everything We Know About the Mexican Drug Lord Who Escaped from Prison
This Security Video Shows El Chapo Making His Prison Break
What's Going to Happen to the Sinaloa Cartel Now That 'El Chapo' Is Free?

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