Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A 60-year-old Baja California man was charged in federal court in San Diego Thursday with criminal counts that could send him to prison for life for allegedly trying to smuggle more than a half-ton of illegal drugs into the United States.

Jose Guadalupe Aviles-Cordero of Mexicali, Mexico, was arrested Wednesday after driving into the Calexico East Commercial Port of Entry in a truck pulling what appeared to be an empty trailer, authorities reported.

Finding “anomalies” in the roof of the cargo compartment of the big rig, border agents searched the vehicle and found 1,309 pounds of methamphetamine, 9.37 pounds of heroin and 2.64 pounds of cocaine hidden in packages inside, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

If convicted in the case, Aviles-Cordero will face a maximum penalty of 10 years to life in custody and a $1 million fine, prosecutors said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro ordered the defendant to appear for a detention hearing Tuesday and a preliminary hearing on Dec. 20.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.