Woman, 73, pleads guilty in drug tunnel case

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SAN DIEGO — A 73-year-old South Bay woman pleaded guilty Thursday to laundering money as part of a conspiracy to rent an Otay Mesa warehouse and use it to conceal a cross-border drug tunnel.

During a hearing in federal court in San Diego, Glennys Rodriguez of Chula Vista admitted to accepting cash from co-conspirators in Mexico in order to secure use of the storehouse at 10145 Via de la Amistad, knowing that the space would be used for illegal purposes.

Rodriguez also acknowledged that she converted rent payments into money orders and cashier’s checks to shield the source of the funds, and took part in financial procedures, including the establishment of bank accounts, to further the scheme.

Rodriguez told investigators she was not privy to all details of the activities that occurred in the warehouse, including construction and operation of a binational contraband tunnel.

Authorities discovered the underground passageway April 1.

As part of her plea agreement, Rodriguez acknowledged that the cash used to rent the warehouse consisted of drug-trafficking proceeds.

Rodriguez will face a maximum 20-year prison term and a $250,000 fine at her sentencing Feb. 27, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.