Former Yoakum County Sheriff Deputy Pleads Guilty In Federal Court
Defendant Admits His Involvement in Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
LUBBOCK, Texas — Inoe R. Valdez, Jr., 43, a former deputy sheriff with the Yoakum County Sherriff’s Department (YCSD), appeared in federal court today and pleaded guilty to a felony offense stemming from his involvement in a cocaine distribution conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Specifically, Valdez pleaded guilty to an Information charging one count of unlawful use of a communications facility. Valdez, who will remain on bond, faces a maximum statutory penalty of 48 months in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Judge Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after the completion of that report.
Valdez admits that from July 2009 until approximately August 2010, he used a cellphone to commit, cause and facilitate a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
According to documents filed in the case, in February 2010, investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) learned that Valdez was associating with a particular individual who was suspected of trafficking controlled substances in Yoakum County, Texas. Following a traffic stop of this individual, DPS learned that this individual had Valdez’s cell phone number saved in his cell phone and in fact, had made 15 calls to, and received one call from, Valdez, during the period November 1, 2009 to March 18, 2010.
This individual advised DPS that Valdez had instructed him/her to call or text him and say that he/she “had some information” for Valdez, which would be the signal for Valdez to go to that individual’s home so they could discuss narcotics-related matters. This individual advised that in winter 2009, Valdez asked him/her for three to four ounces of cocaine to give to another individual in Brownsfield, Texas. This individual sold Valdez three ounces of cocaine for $2,100. This individual also advised DPS that this was not the only time he/she furnished cocaine to Valdez.
In June 2010, a person, working at the direction of the DPS, met Valdez and asked Valdez for $50 worth of cocaine. Valdez advised this person that he would provide it in a day or two. This person told Valdez that they had a friend who was going to send them cocaine from Mexico. Valdez advised that he would purchase one-quarter of a kilogram of cocaine per week at $500 per ounce and sell it for $800 per ounce. Valdez also indicated an interest in receiving marijuana.
When DPS investigators interviewed Valdez in November 2011, he stated that his financial debts had become overwhelming, and he had discussed a joint venture with the first individual to smuggle 200-300 pounds of marijuana to Oklahoma or Kansas. Valdez advised that this venture never materialized, but that this same individual later approached Valdez about selling cocaine and Valdez agreed.
Valdez admitted that from summer 2009 to summer 2010, while he worked as a deputy in the YCSD, he distributed approximately 1.5 pounds of cocaine. Valdez stated that he stopped selling cocaine in August 2010 because he learned he was under investigation; shortly thereafter, he resigned from the YCSD.
The case is being investigated by the Texas DPS, the FBI, the Yoakum County District Attorney’s Office and the Yoakum County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Haag is in charge of the prosecution.