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Justice News

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Former “Panama Unit” Officers Indicted

A Defendant Is Presumed Innocent Unless And Until Convicted Through Due Process Of Law.

McALLEN, Texas – A federal grand jury has returned a six-count indictment against Jonathan Trevino, Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, Fabian Rodriguez and Gerardo Mendoza-Duran, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, which charges all four men, as well as five substantive counts of attempting to aid and abet the possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Espinoza and Duran are charged with four of the substantive counts, while Trevino and Rodriguez were indicted on one of those charges.

Trevino, 28, Espinoza, 29, Rodriguez, 28, and Mendoza-Duran, 30, were previously charged by criminal complaint last month and subsequently arrested following a multi-agency investigation conducted in 2012.

The indictment alleges Trevino and Espinoza, former officers with the Mission Police Department, along with Rodriguez and Duran, former deputies with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, attempted to utilize their positions as law enforcement personnel in order to assist drug traffickers with the distribution of cocaine. On several occasions in October and November 2012, the defendants allegedly provided protective escorts for suspected loads of cocaine as they traveled throughout Hidalgo County.

If convicted, the four face a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison, along with a potential fine up to $10 million.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Office of Professional Responsibility, Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Rangers and Department of Justice – Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Anibal Alanis and James Sturgis are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015