A former Texas police officer was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison on Aug. 7 for possession and conspiracy to distribute more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana. The 39-year-old man began his law enforcement career with the Starr County Sheriff's Office in 2002. At the time of his 2016 arrest, he was working as a detective with the Rio Grande City Police Department. The man would have faced a longer sentence if he had been convicted following a trial. However, he avoided that fate by entering into a plea agreement with U.S. attorneys in April 2017.
The investigation into the man's activities began when 600 pounds of marijuana was found in a horse trailer by Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies in January 2013. Using information provided by informants, local, state and federal investigators discovered evidence linking the former detective with several Mexican drug cartels. He allegedly helped the criminal organizations transport drugs by escorting narcotics shipments through Starr County for distribution in Texas and Louisiana.
Prosecutors say that the man was paid by the cartels with racehorses and drugs as well as cash. He reportedly provided the criminal groups with police equipment and weapons that had been used during the commission of crimes. One of these crimes involved the abduction and likely murder of an innocent man. When federal agents searched a suspected drug trafficker's home, they found police radios and photographs of the former detective in the company of senior Mexican crime figures.
This case reveals that federal prosecutors may be willing to make deals with defendants accused of serious drug crimes. When defending a client accused of committing multiple federal felonies, a criminal law attorney could negotiate with prosecutors to lower the penalties.