4 Texas officers allegedly guarded cocaine shipments
McALLEN, Texas Bond has been set at $100,000 for three South Texas lawmen charged with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to guard shipments of cocaine.
The officers appearing in court Friday include 29-year-old Jonathan Trevino, whose father is Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino. The two others are Hidalgo sheriff's deputies Fabian Rodriguez and Gerardo Duran.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos said it was unlikely the three men could be released before Monday.
All three were taken into custody Thursday when federal prosecutors announced the charges that have sent shockwaves through the area's law enforcement community.
Mission police officer Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, a fourth alleged conspirator who is also the son of a police chief, made an initial appearance in federal court in McAllen on Thursday on two counts of cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
According to prosecutors, a confidential source working for the government told Duran in September that the drug trafficking organization he was working for needed corrupt law enforcement officers to escort drug loads. On Oct. 19, Duran and another individual escorted a load of 20 kilograms of cocaine north from McAllen to the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias about an hour away. Duran was allegedly paid $4,000, they said.
The officers earned thousands of dollars more for allegedly escorting four more cocaine shipments in November that were part of the sting operation, prosecutors contend.
The complaint said all four "utilized their positions as law enforcement personnel to escort and protect loads of narcotics."
Nothing in the charging documents accuses them of stealing drugs, which was the original tip.
Espinoza's father did not respond to phone messages seeking comment. Nobody from his department is accused of wrongdoing. He is cooperating with federal investigators and conducting an internal review, but acknowledged earlier that he also had responsibilities as a father. Lupe said the incident was both devastating to his family and the organization.
"I have to support my son because he is my son. But I will make sure that the right thing is being done and I'm meeting my obligations," Lupe Trevino said. "Nothing is being covered up. I'm being very open with everything."
Authorities allege the some of the men were in the "Panama Unit," an anti-drug trafficking task force. Instead of combating the drug trade, prosecutors say the four provided protection for it.
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