Dirty Cop Tally Now at 7 in Panama Unit Corruption Case

The Monitor
March 7, 2013

 

(Left to right): Jonathan Treviño, Gerardo Duran, Alexis Espinoza

(Left to right): Jonathan Treviño, Gerardo Duran, Alexis Espinoza

Three former Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies alongside three other men have been formally charged in the Panama Unit corruption case, bringing the total number of former cops charged to seven.

A grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday in U.S. District Court in McAllen.

Named in the indictment are former Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies Salvador Joel Arguello, 34, Claudio Alberto Mata, 34, and Eric Michael Alcantar, 29, all former members of the Panama Unit, a joint street-level narcotics task force with the Mission Police Department.

The new charges mean every former lawman assigned to the Panama Unit when it was disbanded in December has now been indicted in federal court.

Each of the former deputies is charged with conspiring with the intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The lawless Panama Unit answered directly to Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, father of the task force's head

The lawless Panama Unit answered directly to Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, father of the task force’s head

Also charged with theft of government property Wednesday is Jonathan Treviño, the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño and former Mission narcotics investigator already under indictment in the drug conspiracy. Also charged with theft of government property is Arguello and former deputy Fabian Rodriguez.

Linked to the Panama Unit case with Wednesday’s new charges are Fernando Guerra Sr., 57, and Fernando Guerra Jr., 24, both of whom were arrested last month, accused of  stealing drug loads with the help of corrupt cops. They, along with Alvaro Gilberto De Hoyos, 25, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

The Guerras are accused of stealing drug loads with the help of corrupt cops, a federal complaint says. De Hoyos is accused of creating false compartments in vehicles used for drug smuggling.

All defendants face between 10 years and life in prison, with a potential fine of up to $10 million.

Read the full article–3 former deputies, 3 others charged in Panama Unit corruption case