Nov. 24, 2009
ATTEMPT TO PROVIDE CONTRABAND TO INMATE IN DETENTION CENTER LEADS TO FELONY CONVICTION OF GUARD
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – A former Willacy County Detention Center guard has been convicted of smuggling cocaine into the detention center for an inmate while employed as a guard, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Baldemar Garza, 28, of Raymondville, Texas, pleaded guilty to having attempted to provide a prohibited object - cocaine - to an inmate of a prison at a hearing today before United States District Judge Hilda Tagle. Cocaine is a prohibited object as defined under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1791 and attempting to provide cocaine to an inmate violates both a statute and rule of the detention facility. Garza faces up to 10 years incarceration and/or a $250,000 fine to be followed by up to a three-year-term of supervised release.
Garza’s arrest is a result of the ongoing investigative efforts of the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) to prevent contraband from being smuggled into federal facilities. While Garza was a guard at the Willacy County Detention Center, DHS-OIG agents received information that he had offered to and was willing to provide inmates with contraband for a price. An investigation was initiated. After learning Garza had been paid by an inmate to provide him with a small quantity of cocaine and surveillance of Garza’s activities away from the detention center gave agents reason to believe Garza would enter the facility with contraband in his possession, DHS-OIG agents stopped and searched Garza on Sept. 8, 2009, as he attempted to enter the Willacy County Detention Center. Agents found approximately 6.5 grams of cocaine on Garza’s person. Garza was immediately arrested and subsequently confessed to having obtained the contraband for the purpose of providing it to an inmate.
A Brownsville Grand Jury indicted Garza on Sept. 29, 2009. Today, Garza admitted to having attempted to provide the cocaine to an inmate in violation of federal law.Garza is presently unemployed.
Garza has been permitted to remain free on bond pending his sentencing set for Feb. 22, 2010.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister.
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