Calexico Drug Tunnel Operator Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison - NBC 7 San Diego

Calexico Drug Tunnel Operator Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

In 2016, officers seized $1.2 million worth of marijuana and $22 million worth of cocaine smuggled through the tunnel

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    Authorities revealed photos of the longest cross-border drug smuggling tunnel ever discovered in California.

    An Acapulco man who operated a 415-yard drug tunnel that ran from a house in Calexico, Calif., to Mexicali, Baja, Mexico, was sentenced in a San Diego courtroom to 10 years in prison Monday.

    Manuel Gallegos-Jimenez, 48, is charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Over 1,000 Kilograms of Marijuana, which he admitted to in court. When officers raided the operation in 2016, they seized $1.2 million worth of marijuana and $22 million worth of cocaine. 

    The tunnel exit was found in March 2016 in the front room of the three-bedroom, 2-bath house located at 902 E. Third Street. Agents found a hole in the floor covered with tile leading to a shaft descending underground. Inside, the tunnel had an elevator that could fit up to 10 people, ventilation and electricity. Gallegos-Jimenez oversaw the movement of the drugs from the tunnel and stored marijuana in another house three miles away on Horizon Street.

    Traffickers purchased the property in 2015 for $240,000 – all under the watchful eye of law enforcement officers who monitored the construction and smuggling through intercepted calls and surveillance. It was the first time drug traffickers had purchased property and built a house for the specific purpose of concealing a drug tunnel. 

    Agents believe the traffickers began smuggling drugs through the tunnel in Feb. 2016. In April of that year, officers seized nearly 3,000 pounds of drugs.

    Two other defendants, Joel Duarte-Medina, 43, and Eva-De Duarte, 74, have already been sentenced to 60 months and 595 days respectively. Defendants Kenneth Wayne Olmos, 33, and Bertha Lidia Esquivel, 52, await sentencing.