Mexican charged with building drug tunnels into US
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A man identified by prosecutors as an operative for Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel was charged with building two major cross-border drug tunnels, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday.
Jose Sanchez Villalobos is accused of building, financing and overseeing the secret passages, which have proliferated along the United States-Mexico border in recent years as heightened enforcement on land has pushed smugglers underground.
Previous prosecutions in connection with the tunnels have named low-ranking truckers and their supervisors who pick up loads of marijuana at warehouses in the United States after they already crossed the border.
Sanchez Villalobos, 49, was arrested by the Mexican army in January in the central state of Jalisco in connection with the seizure of US$15.3 million (S$18.8 million) two months earlier in Tijuana, Mexico. At the time, Mexico's defence secretary called him an operative for the Sinaloa cartel in Jalisco and Baja California states, which includes Tijuana.