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  1. #1
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    Caretaker of home with drug tunnel pleads guilty

    Caretaker of home with drug tunnel pleads guilty
    FEDERAL COURT: The caretaker of a Calexico house where authorities found a drug-smuggling tunnel has pleaded guilty to possessing more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Karen P. Hewitt said.

    Antonio Morales Barrios, 42, a Mexican national, entered the plea in federal court, Hewitt said in a news release issued Friday.

    The plea must still be accepted by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff at a sentencing Sept 2.

    In September 2006, federal authorities found a 400-foot-long tunnel with lighting, ventilation and a water-pump system at a house on East Second Street in Calexico. The tunnel, which was 20 feet underground, ran to a house in Mexicali, Mexico.

    As part of the plea, Morales Barrios admitted that he drove a pickup containing the marijuana from the house to a nearby swap meet, where he transferred the truck to Jesus Aguila Agundez, 39, of Calexico.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson, who is prosecuting the case, said Morales Barrios faces a sentence of five to 40 years in prison.

    Aguila Agundez, who also was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, was sentenced in August to five years in prison. –S.S.


    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metr ... bsafe.html
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Staff writers Jose Luis Jiménez, Susan Shroder and Debbi Baker contributed to this report.
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  2. #2
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    Mexican man gets 2 1/2-year sentence for drug tunnel
    The Associated Press
    Article Launched: 10/06/2008 01:15:20 PM PDT


    SAN DIEGO—A Mexican man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison Monday for his role in a secret tunnel that was used to smuggle marijuana across the border to the United States.
    Antonio Morales Barrios, 41, pleaded guilty in May to possession of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute after surrendering to U.S. authorities at a border crossing in Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego.

    "I am repentant," he told the judge in Spanish. "I know that I made a mistake and I'm paying for it."

    Morales will also lose his legal residency, but the sentence was far lighter than the 40-year maximum because he previously had a clean criminal record in the U.S. and Mexico. Prosecutors sought 2 1/2 years in prison; Morales' attorney recommended two years.

    Prosecutor Sherri Walker Hobson said Morales was the caretaker of a house in downtown Calexico that housed a tunnel used to smuggle drugs from Mexicali, Mexico. He occupied the house for less than three weeks before authorities discovered the tunnel in September 2006.

    Authorities believe the tunnel was operational for two months, Hobson said.

    The tunnel is one of at least 60 found along the U.S.-Mexico border since Sept. 11, 2001, when U.S. authorities heightened border security.


    http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_10652242
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