McALLEN -- A federal grand jury indicted Starr County Sheriff Rey Guerra on drug charges, officials announced today.
Guerra is named as a defendant in a 19-count indictment handed down Wednesday. FBI agents arrested Guerra at his office in Rio Grande City. He is expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos in McAllen.
Prosecutors will seek to keep Guerra behind bars pending a hearing on its request to detain him without bond before his trial.
Guerra, also known as Tio, is accused along with several others - many with previous arrests and charges - of participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute both cocaine and marijuana.
The charge relates to an offense allegedly committed by three co-conspirators - Jose De Jesus Hernandez; Hernandez's wife, Mayra Trevino Flores; and Jose Carlos Hinojosa - involving possession with intent to distribute approximately 692 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of cocaine found at a residence owned by Flores, as alleged in count four of the indictment.
Guerra allegedly assisted Hernandez by helping produce fraudulent lease documents in an effort to hinder and prevent the apprehension of Hernandez, according to the indictment.
Hernandez, 29, is a resident alien from Mexico who resides in Houston. Flores, 25, also lives in Houston; and Jose Carlos Hinojosa, aka Sobrino, 31, is a resident alien from Mexico who lives in Roma. All three have all been previously arrested and are pending trial. Hernandez, Flores and Hinojosa are among those also named with Guerra in count one of the indictment.
Guerra is also charged in count 10 with facilitating the drug trafficking conspiracy via telephone on Oct. 13, 2007.
Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, as alleged in count one of the indictment, carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment upon conviction, as well as $4 million fine.
If Guerra is convicted of being an accessory after the fact, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine.A conviction for using a telephone to further a drug conspiracy carries a maximum four-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.
In addition to Guerra and the other three defendants named above, the following 11 individuals also named in the second superceding indictment have been arrested and are pending trial:
Raymundo Edgar Gonzalez, 37, of Miguel Aleman, Tamps., Mexico
Sergio Ivan Olivarez-Flores, a Mexican citizen, 24, of Miguel Aleman, Tamps, Mexico
Saul Mendez Jr., 31, of Rio Grande City
Mario Alberto Mascorro, 33, of McAllen
Jesus Fabiel Mendoza, 29, of Richmond, Texas
Jaime Herrera, 33, of Edinburg
San Juanita M. Garcia, 55, of Garciasville
Tarsila Villarreal Vidal, 37, of Salineno
Yanira Barrera, 33, of Houston
Jorge Alberto Ramos, 29 of Roma
FBI special agents, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, officers of the Houston Police Department and the Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force participated in the investigation that led to the charges.
"We shall continue to address public corruption, a major priority in the Southern District of Texas," United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle said in a statement.