Victor A. Flores, 52, of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, was sentenced Oct. 3, 2011, to 135 months in prison by visiting U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson for conspiring with other persons to possess with intent to distribute in excess of eight tons of cocaine. The cocaine had been smuggled into the United States through a tunnel that extended from Mexico into Naco, Ariz.
“During the conspiracy, Flores allowed his residence to be used to store approximately one ton of cocaine,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “The persistence of law enforcement and prosecutors in ensuring the defendants in this case face justice was outstanding.”
The investigation began after the seizure of over five tons of cocaine from a warehouse in Tucson in December 1996. During the course of the investigation an additional 2,660 lbs. of cocaine, three fully automatic machine guns, and $1.5 million in cash were seized. Over 50 people connected to the Naco tunnel have been convicted. Flores was one of five that remained at large.
Flores was to face trial in 2001 for his involvement in the cocaine conspiracy. He fled one week before the start of the trial and remained a fugitive until his arrest in Mexico in 2010. He was extradited to the United States in December 2010.
There have been three trials involving the Naco Tunnel thus far. Two took place in 2001 and the third in 2007. In the 2007 trial, Francisco Valle-Hurtado, 38, and Ruben Ulteras-Estrada were convicted of possession with intent to distribute 17,715 lbs. of cocaine. Valle-Hurtado was also convicted of possessing a machine gun while committing the cocaine violation. He used the machine gun to guard the cocaine after it had passed through the tunnel that extended 210 feet from Mexico to Naco, Arizona. Both defendants were sentenced to 25 years in prison.