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August 27, 2009

FORMER SHERIFF SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR PROVIDING PROTECTION TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS IN EXCHANGE FOR CASH

(McALLEN, Texas) – Reymundo Guerra, 52, of Rio Grande City, Texas, has been sentenced to 64 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons without parole for using his position as Sheriff of Starr County, Texas, to facilitate a drug trafficking organization’s ability to conduct its illicit business in exchange for cash, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

The former Starr County Sheriff was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Randy Crane. In addition to the prison term, Judge Crane ordered Guerra further serve a four-year-term of supervised release – a form of probation with stringent conditions – after his release from prison. Guerra has been permitted to remain on bond until Sept. 28, 2009, when he must surrender to the United States Marshals Service to begin service of his sentence.

Guerra is one of a total of 27 individuals named and charged with various drug trafficking and/or money laundering offenses alleged in a superseding indictment returned on Oct. 8, 2008. Of those 27 defendants, a total of 20, including former Sheriff Guerra, have pleaded guilty to one or more counts of the indictment. Seven defendants are fugitives and the indictment remains sealed as to a 28th defendant. 

On May 1, 2009, at a rearraignment hearing, Guerra admitted that since at least January 2007 he provided information he learned in his position as sheriff to enable Jose Carlos Hinojosa and his drug trafficking associates to avoid investigation and possible arrest and to hasten their release if they were arrested. If Guerra knew or anticipated there might be increased law enforcement activity in the area of Starr County, Guerra would warn Hinojosa. Guerra also forced closure of a case associated with one of Hinojosa’s associates. On at least one occasion, Guerra knowingly gave a false document to investigators to deflect suspicion from one of Hinojosa’s associates. Guerra also assisted Hinojosa to learn of information leading to searches of stash locations and residences and/or seizures of controlled substances. Through his actions, Guerra helped Hinojosa and his associates to continue to engage in drug trafficking activities in Starr County. In return for his information and protection, Guerra was compensated through “gifts” from Hinojosa, typically $2,000 to $3,000 at a time. 

Jose Carlos Hinojosa, 32, a resident alien from Mexico residing in Roma, Texas, and the alleged leader of the drug trafficking organization that paid Guerra for protection has also pleaded guilty and is pending sentencing on Oct. 26, 2009.

Ten co-defendants were also sentenced to prison terms today along with Guerra, including Raymundo Edgar Gonzalez, 38, who received 235 months and Jorge Alberto Ramos, 30, who was sentenced to serve 87 months. Jose De Jesus Hernandez, 30, a resident alien from Mexico residing in Houston, was sentenced to 38 months. Mayra Trevino Flores, 28, and Sharletha Woodard, 30, both of Houston, will be serving 15 and 46 months, respectively, while Roberto Eden Moreno, 37, of Palmhurst, Texas, and Jaime Herrera, 34, of Edinburg, Texas, will serve 87 and 120 months, respectively. The remaining individuals sentenced include John Louis Jordan, 38, of Missouri City, Texas, who will serve 188 months, Tarsila Villarreal Vidal, 38, of Salineno, Texas, who received 63 months and Javier Oscar Solis Garcia, 48, a Mexican citizen from Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico, who will serve a total of 45 months in federal prison. All sentences are to be served without the benefit of parole. 

Sergio Ivan Olivarez-Flores, 25, a Mexican citizen from Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Darrell Lamelle Wortham, 37, of Missouri City, Texas, were sentenced to 168 months in federal prison without parole on June 16, 2009. On that same date, Twandalyn Renique Jordan, 36, also of Missouri City, Texas, was sentenced to 41 months imprisonment. 

The sentencings of Saul Mendez, 32, of Rio Grande City, Texas, Mario Alberto Mascorro, 34, of McAllen, Texas, Jesus Fabiel Mendoza, 30, of Richmond, Texas, Yanira Barrera, 34, of Houston and San Juanita M. Garcia, 56, of Garciasville, Texas, will take place on Oct. 26, 2009, along with Hinojosa.

Warrants remain outstanding for the following seven defendants who remain fugitives:  Eduardo Nicolas Barragan-Balderas, 33, Luis Fernando Garza Saenz, 33, and Sergio Silva Trevino, 25, all Mexican citizens from Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico; Jose Alonso Barrera, 33, of McAllen, Texas; Aldo Reyes, 33, of Rio Grande City, Texas; Romel Neftali Huerta, 31, of Roma, Texas; and Ricardo Pena Cuellar, 50, of Mission, Texas. Anyone having information regarding the whereabouts of these fugitives are asked to contact the McAllen office of the FBI at (956) 984-6300 or the McAllen office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at (956) 992-8400. The indictment remains sealed as to one defendant.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by special agents of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Houston Police Department and the Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force. This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case dubbed Operation Carlito’s Weigh is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Toni Trevino.

 

 

 

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