Former Bailiff Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy
McALLEN, Texas – A 53-year-old former bailiff with the Hidalgo County Court at Law #6 has been ordered to federal prison for his involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Oscar De La Cruz, of Pharr, pleaded guilty Jan. 4, 2019.
Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced De La Cruz to a 60-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In pronouncing the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted his outward appearance as a God-fearing man served as a façade for a different persona - a drug trafficker. She also stated that his abuse of authority saddened the court considering many others make great sacrifices to obtain positions of public trust to better their communities. De La Cruz, however, used it to line his pockets.
From 2016 through 2018, De La Cruz obtained law enforcement sensitive documents not generally available for the public and generated fraudulent search warrants for members of a drug trafficking organization. The warrants were ultimately given to the sources of supply to make it appear law enforcement had seized the controlled substances. The drug traffickers could then retain and steal the controlled substance from the source of supply for further distribution themselves.
Specifically, in late 2016, De La Cruz generated a fraudulent federal search warrant and forged the signature of a judge to document the fictitious seizure of cocaine. Later, he generated two more warrants documenting the seizure of a total of 36 kilograms of cocaine at addresses in Edcouch and near Austin. These search warrants allowed the theft of approximately 45 kilograms of cocaine for further distribution.
In addition to providing fraudulent warrants, De La Cruz conducted thousands of PACER queries, a database of federal court filings. He also used his position as a county court bailiff in order to access documents through Odyssey, a database of state court filings in Hidalgo County, to provide records and information to drug traffickers not available to the general public.
Several members of the drug trafficking conspiracy that De La Cruz assisted also regularly engaged in home invasions and carjackings for the purpose of stealing controlled substances.
De La Cruz was permitted to remain on bond and surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prison facility to be determined at a later date.
The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr. and K. Alejandra Andrade are prosecuting the case.