Jury finds former deputy guilty in Panama Unit trial

Jorge Garza // File Photo

A federal jury has found former Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office deputy Jorge Garza guilty for his role in the Panama Unit scandal.

Garza has been on trial before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane in McAllen since last Tuesday.

Garza was accused of working with corrupt law enforcement officials and drug traffickers to steal drug loads from rivals, sell them and split the profits.

Testimony in trial included testimony from Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevio as well as new allegations of fudged timesheets, deputies being to campaign and being forced to buy fundraiser tickets.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys made their closing early this morning.

After just three hours of deliberation, the jury handed down their guilty verdict against Garza early this afternoon.

Garza is now expected to be sentenced with the 11 other defendants in the Panama Unit scandal on October 17th.

The former deputy faces 10 years to life in federal prison.

Among those to be sentenced with Garza are Jonathan Trevio, the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevio, and Alexis Espinoza, the son of Hidalgo Police Chief Rudy Espinoza.

Defense attorneys asked for Garza to remain free on bond until sentencing but Judge Crane ordered that he be taken into custody until a Wednesday afternoon hearing.