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Press Release

Starr County justice of the peace and another sent to prison for roles in drug trafficking organization

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – Two Starr County residents, one a former justice of the peace (JP), are now headed to federal prison for their roles in a drug-trafficking organization, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Roel Valadez Jr., 33, and Diego Alberto Reyes-Roiz, 43, both of Rio Grande City, pleaded guilty March 18 and March 25, respectively.

Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane has now ordered Reyes-Roiz to serve a total of 22 years in prison, while former JP Valadez must serve 21 months. Reyes-Roiz must also serve five years of supervised release following release from prison. Valadez will be on supervised release for three years.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Crane found Reyes-Roiz was the leader of a drug-trafficking organization that imported substantial quantities of drugs into the United States from Mexico which was then distributed throughout Texas. Reyes-Roiz was found responsible for the importation of approximately 43 kilograms of meth from Mexico into the United States in addition to large amounts of cocaine and marijuana.

The Court learned about how Valdez had been doing favors for Ignacio Garza - one of the heads of the drug trafficking organization. Garza had received information that authorities had stopped and apprehended one of his drug couriers. Valadez, a JP since 2018, made a series of phone calls to the Starr County jail to see if the courier had been booked, and if so, by whom and reached out to another Justice of the Peace to see if he could be released on his own recognizance.

“As an elected official in Starr County, a judge none the less, Valadez swore an oath to uphold the law,” said Hamdani. “However, he betrayed his oath of office and the citizens of Starr County when he abused his office to assist and protect a local drug-trafficking organization.”   

At the time of his plea, Valadez admitted he had possessed with intent to distribute less than 100 kilograms of marijuana. He also acknowledged he had used his JP position to assist another person in obtaining a low bond for one of his workers that law enforcement had detained.  

Reyes-Roiz will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Valadez was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender at a later date.

Garza, 53, Rio Grande City, also pleaded guilty and is set for sentencing Sept. 5. At that time, he faces up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million fine. He remains in custody.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and IRS Criminal Investigations conducted the Organized Crime and Dug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigations with the assistance of local task force officers. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Cook Profit and Ted Parran prosecuted the cases.

Updated July 1, 2024

Drug Trafficking