Cartel Member Charged With Constructing Tijuana-San Diego Drug Tunnels
October 04, 2012

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A Homeland Security Special Agent, who chose to remain unidentified, crawls through a drug tunnel found by agents at a warehouse in Otay Mesa near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, November 4, 2010.

SAN DIEGO -- A federal grand jury has charged a reputed member of the Sinaloa drug cartel with constructing sophisticated drug tunnels between San Diego and Tijuana.

Jose Sanchez Villalobos, 49, was charged with 13 counts related to the construction and operation of two sophisticated tunnels that authorities discovered in the last two years.

The indictment describes one of the tunnels as the most sophisticated drug tunnel ever discovered along the U.S.- Mexico border. When authorities discovered it 40 feet underground last year, it was close to 2,000 feet long, had an elevator and an electric rail system, and connected warehouses in Tijuana and Otay Mesa.

The indictment accuses Sanchez of overseeing the tunnel’s operations. He allegedly decided who could use them and charged drug runners a fee.

Sanchez is in custody in Mexico awaiting extradition to the U.S.