Jose Sanchez Villalobos is facing a 13-count indictment after being imprisoned in Mexico for eight years.
SAN DIEGO — The reputed architect of some of the Sinaloa drug cartel’s most elaborate tunnel systems has been quietly extradited to San Diego, eight years after his arrest in Mexico.
Jose Sanchez Villalobos, 58, is alleged to have been the highest-ranking cartel member tasked with building cross-border tunnels and using them to smuggle large amounts of marijuana into the United States when he was indicted in 2012, according to court documents filed in San Diego federal court.
As with other recent extraditions of high-level cartel suspects, his happened with little fanfare.
He was transferred to U.S. agents at an airport in Toluca, Mexico, on Jan. 10 and taken to San Diego. He was arraigned three days later on a 13-count indictment. A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
Mexico’s federal prosecutorial agency announced the extradition on Sunday.
Sanchez’s arrest in 2012 came during a flurry of tunnel construction along San Diego’s border with Mexico — particularly in the Otay Mesa commercial district, where warehouses provided ample cover for trafficking activity and the area’s soil composition made for ideal building conditions.
Published: January 21, 2020
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