Alleged cartel member indicted

SAN DIEGO - A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in San Diego charges a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug cartel with overseeing the construction and operation of two Otay Mesa tunnels which were used to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States.

Jose Sanchez-Villalobos, 49, is charged with 13 counts, including conspiracy to distribute marijuana for importation into the United States and construction of a cross-border tunnel.

The defendant was arrested by Mexican officials last January and is currently in extradition proceedings in Mexico.

The defendant -- said to be the regional manager for the Sinaloa Cartel in the Baja, Jalisco and Tijuana areas -- was indicted in connection with narcotics tunnels discovered in November 2010 and November 2011.

According to prosecutors, more than 86,000 pounds of marijuana were seized from the two tunnels when they were found.

According to court documents, Sanchez-Villalobos oversaw the movement of marijuana from southern Mexico to northern Mexico, and the storage of the cannabis in stash houses prior to its importation into the United States.

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