U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced the unsealing of a federal indictment Wednesday against a man accused of running elaborate drug smuggling tunnels from Tijuana into San Diego County.
Jose Sanchez-Villalobos, 49, was charged by a federal grand jury in San Diego with 13 counts related to two narcotics tunnels found on Nov. 25, 2010, and Nov. 29, 2011, near the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to authorities, both narcotics tunnels were discovered a year apart in Otay Mesa.
With the first tunnel, Special Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized approximately 35,350-pounds of marijuana. The second narcotics tunnel yielded 51,084-pounds of pot.
Duffy said Sanchez-Villalobos allegedly oversaw the construction of both tunnels and controlled the trafficking of marijuana via the tunnels. He’s alleged to be a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Drug Trafficking Cartel operating in the Baja, Jalisco and Tijuana areas.
The indictment against Sanchez-Villalobos charged him with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance for importation into the U.S., and financing, aiding and abetting of a cross-border tunnel, among many other counts.
Sanchez-Villalobos is currently in extradition proceedings in Mexico.
If found guilty, he could face 10 years to life in prison and millions of dollars in fines.