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Press Release

Two guilty in prison contraband bribery scheme

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

McALLEN, Texas – A local man has admitted he paid a prison guard to smuggle contraband into the La Villa Detention Center (LVDC), announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Abel Angel Solis, 24, Pharr, admitted he paid Jose Martin Espinoza, 36, Mercedes, to smuggle cellular phones into LVDC. Espinoza entered his plea April 24.

On May 17, 2022, Espinoza attempted to enter the detention center for his normally scheduled duty. At that time, other prison officials conducted a search and found a cell phone wrapped in cellophane inside his work cap.

Espinoza subsequently admitted Solis was paying him to bring the phones to an inmate who was being detained at LVDC pending proceedings on a hostage taking case. That inmate, Sixto Gonzalez Jr., pleaded guilty in that matter today.

The investigation also revealed cash app transactions between Espinoza and Solis. The transactions totaled $1,500 for the delivery of three phones from Espinoza to Gonzalez.

U.S. District Judge Marina Marmolejo accepted the pleas. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa will impose sentencing July 31 and Aug. 18, for Espinoza and Solis, respectively. At those times, Espinoza and Solis face up to 15 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Solis has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing. Espinoza was permitted to remain on bond.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Colton Turner is prosecuting the case.

Updated May 15, 2023

Public Corruption