The state-of-the-art narco tunnels used by the Sinaloa cartel and its boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman were discovered fully equipped with a hydraulic elevator, electric rail cars, lighting, and storeroom in 2011.

Jose Sanchez Villalobos, the builder of these narco tunnels linking Tijuana on the Mexican side and San Diego on the U.S. side, was sentenced to 10 years and one month in custody for a drug distribution conspiracy in a San Diego federal court on Wednesday, July 28.

San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Villalobos is also one of the Sinaloa cartel's high-level managers. He pleaded guilty last December to planning, financing, and supervising the construction of several cross-border tunnels from 2010 to 2012.

He also pleaded guilty in a plea agreement in overseeing the Sinaloa cartel's operation as smuggling conduits. 

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Anello said that Jose Sanchez Villalobos is a very sophisticated criminal at a very high level. However, the judge noted that Villalobos was a totally different man today as compared to when "the conduct was committed."

Jose Sanchez Villalobos, 58, was already arrested in Mexico in 2012 and spent about eight years in custody there. He then spent another year and a half in San Diego after being extradited to face charges in the U.S. He seemed to have already served most of his prison term.

Court documents did not show how Villalobos became involved with the Sinaloa cartel or how he became El Chapo's tunnel architect.

Villalobos was reported to be the regional manager for the Sinaloa cartel. He was responsible for transporting drugs in Baja, California, and Jalisco in Mexico, according to authorities.

U.S. authorities noted that Jose Sanchez Villalobos has also overseen marijuana transport from southern Mexico to northern Mexico.

READ NEXT: El Chapo Narco Tunnel Found in Front of a National Guard Base in Mexico

Narco Tunnels of El Chapo and Sinaloa Cartel

In May, Mexican authorities discovered another 650-foot tunnel created by El Chapo. The said narco tunnel was across the street from a National Guard base in Tijuana, Mexico, New York Post reported.

Authorities believed that the narco tunnel was planned to connect Tijuana to the San Diego underpass discovered in 2019, which was a part of a tunnel network built by the now-jailed El Chapo.

Reports said there are over 13,000 narco tunnels in Mexico. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), most of these tunnels were reportedly controlled by the Sinaloa cartel.

Back in March, U.S. agents have found $30 million worth of drugs in a 600 meters tunnel in San Diego. The discovery of the tunnel came two months after the agents found a different tunnel in January.

The tunnel discovered in January was reportedly the longest narco tunnel ever found on the U.S.-Mexico border as it stretched more than three-quarters of a mile from an industrial building in Tijuana into San Diego.

Builder of the Sinaloa Cartel's Narco Tunnels

Jose Sanchez Villalobos allegedly earned a fortune for his role in the Sinaloa cartel. He was even reported to have his own racetrack, National Post reported.

Sanchez was taken by U.S. agents from Mexico and was charged with the 13-count federal indictment, including nine counts of conspiracy to distribute and import marijuana.

He was reported to have overseen two tunnels found in the San Diego area that was built to transport Sinaloa Cartel drugs. He was also said to have been responsible for deciding who could use the said tunnels for a fee.

The narco tunnels became a huge part of El Chapo's operation for smuggling and escaping from prisons. El Chapo has earned the reputation of being the "Lord of the Tunnels" for his preference to use the underground.

He was compared to early Juarez Cartel boss Amado Carillo Fuentes, who was dubbed as "Lord of the Skies." Carillo was known to transport drugs by using planes.

READ MORE: The Power Of El Chapo's Drug Tunnels

This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by: Mary Webber

WATCH: El Chapo's Drug Tunnels, Explained - From Vox