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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Former Donna ISD Police Officer Heads to Prison for Assisting “Rip Crew”

McALLEN, Texas – A 40-year-old Donna man has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Juan Fernando Mata pleaded guilty Jan. 9, 2019.

Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Mata to serve 130 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by four years of supervised release.

At the hearing, Judge Alvarez considered Mata’s role in assisting members of a “rip crew” by conducting fraudulent traffic stops on drug load vehicles so that members of that crew could steal the controlled substances.

Specifically, the court considered Mata’s role in conducting traffic stops in January 2016 and another in May 2017, to assist members in stealing approximately nine kilograms of cocaine and approximately 400 pounds of marijuana, respectfully,

The court also heard allegations were made about Mata assisting members of a second “rip crew” by conducting similar activity.

In pronouncing the sentence today, Judge Alvarez noted that while the rip crew members’ conduct in conducting home invasions and carjackings was reprehensible, Mata’s conduct could also be described as such. The court stated how Mata’s actions eroded the public trust and the sense of security in knowing that law enforcement officers are individuals that can be turned to in the event of a home invasion or other criminal conduct. Judge Alvarez noted that when any law enforcement officer commits criminal conduct, it effects law enforcement as a whole and gives the area a bad name. 

In considering the many letters of support for Mata, including the City of Donna Mayor and employees of Donna Independent School District, the court noted its concern with individuals viewing him as a role model. She stated that it speaks to poor principles when someone sworn to uphold and enforce the law completely disregards it.

Mata was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr. and K. Alejandra Andrade prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Updated April 9, 2019