El Chapo’s ‘Man of Tunnels’ built drug passageways with railways and steel doors

El Chapo's tunnel architect who masterminded an underground drug smuggling route into America has been jailed.

José Sánchez Villalobos was sentenced to ten years and one month behind bars on Wednesday after being found guilty of drug distribution conspiracy.

The high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel member earned the nickname 'El Señor de los Tuneles' or 'The Man of the Tunnels', with his blueprints for secret passages that Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán used to smuggle drugs from Tijuana to San Diego.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sanchez told San Diego federal court that he will live on the straight and narrow going forward.

He said during the hearing: "I promise I will not do anything illegal again, because the easy way to get money is usually the bad way to get it."

The 58-year-old admitted to planning, paying for, and overseeing the construction of the cartel's cross-border tunnels from 2010 to 2012.

Under the indictment and plea bargain agreement he was only found guilty of setting up two passageways, MailOnline reports.

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Sánchez has already served eight years in Mexican prison following his arrest in 2012 and the strung-out process of his extradition to the US, which finally happened in January 2020.

The sentencing on Wednesday came following a year and a half spent in US custody.

Given the time Sanchez has spent locked up since 2012, he is likely to be released from jail in the coming months due to good behaviour.

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It is expected that he will then be deported to Mexico.

Sanchez's first tunnel which stretched 612 yards and was fitted with rail tracks, was found by police in 2010. It linked a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico to another in the San Diego neighbourhood of Otay Mesa.

On the Mexico side, a hydraulically controlled steel door had been installed along with a hidden lift beneath the warehouse floor.

More than 22 tons of marijuana were removed from the San Diego warehouse by authorities and according to the indictment, the second tunnel was discovered in the same area a year later on November 29.

Its 600-yard underground passage travelled through the United States-Mexico border.

The 32 tons of marijuana seized in addition to the 26 tons found on the San Diego side made it one of the largest busts in US history.

Sánchez became a legal resident of the United States before returning to his native country in 2005, to oversee the cartel's smuggling operation.

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