A Sinaloa cartel-linked drug smuggler who built an elaborate bunker and tunnel beneath his Delaware home has been convicted of importing more than 160 pounds of cocaine, federal prosecutors said.
Omar Morales Colon, 44, was convicted by a federal jury Monday on drug conspiracy charges for importing 77 kilograms of cocaine – or roughly 169 pounds – into Delaware from California. The drugs had been smuggled inside 4-foot-tall oxygen tanks, US Attorney David Weiss said Wednesday.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents also discovered a complex tunnel system at Colon’s home in Bear after he was arrested when giving his cocaine supplier more than $382,000 at a hotel parking lot in Newark, Delaware, federal prosecutors said.
The tunnel — hidden behind a false fireplace — led to a clandestine, cavernous bunker beneath Colon’s home that hid his hydroponic marijuana grow operation, authorities said.
“The defendant was a sophisticated drug trafficker who conspired with others, including members of the Sinaloa cartel, to bring vast amounts of cocaine into Delaware,” Weiss said.
The DEA’s investigation into Colon led to the seizure of 17 kilograms of cocaine, multiple pounds of marijuana and nearly $1 million in cash, Weiss said.
Colon, who faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, was indicted in 2017 on charges including conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, the News-Journal reported. He was acquitted on two related charges, according to federal prosecutors.
Investigators said Colon made at least four drug buys between late 2016 and June 2017, receiving 20 grams of cocaine during the initial three transactions. He was arrested following the fourth meeting with his supplier, the newspaper reported.
DEA agents said in 2017 when Colon was indicted that his bunker and tunnel were 2,000 square feet in all with 20-foot ceilings. The tunnel was seen as an anomaly for the East Coast at the time, investigators said.
“That tunnel was something DEA usually deals with out in the southwest part of our country,” DEA agent Shawn Ellerman, who heads up the agency’s Philadelphia field office, reportedly said. “Members of this narcotics organization are associates of the Sinaloa cartel, a well-known, well-established trafficking organization in Mexico.”
Colon and his wife, Shakira Martinez, were later indicted in 2018 for money laundering for allegedly using funds from the drug operation to buy properties in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the News-Journal reported.
A trial date on those yet has yet to be set, federal prosecutors said.