Preliminary hearing set for convicted drug trafficker linked to Otay Mesa cross-border drug tunnel
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A preliminary hearing was scheduled today for a convicted drug trafficker accused of hauling almost 10 tons of marijuana from an Otay Mesa warehouse where a cross-border drug tunnel was discovered.
Carlos Enrique Cunningham is charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
The defendant, along with a woman, was arrested Nov. 2 when the big rig he owns, and was driving, was stopped by officers at the Border Patrol checkpoint near Temecula.
Authorities had followed the truck from an Otay Mesa warehouse that was under surveillance. When officers discovered marijuana in the trailer, they raided the building and discovered a smuggling tunnel that ran under the border to Mexico.
About 19,400 pounds of marijuana were found in the truck, and 32,000 pounds of the drug were seized at the warehouse, with an estimated street value of $20 million for the total haul, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Cunningham, who prosecutors said has prior convictions for trafficking in marijuana and cocaine, allegedly picked up Iris Rodriguez-Barron in Chula Vista after he left the warehouse.
Cunningham claimed after his arrest that Rodriguez-Barron was his wife, but he could not produce documentation to prove it, according to prosecutors. She was also charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Both Cunningham and Rodriguez-Barron face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison if convicted.