One of the law enforcement investigators linked to a federal corruption scheme has confessed to protecting drug stashes.
According to federal court documents, drug task force officer, Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, confessed to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, I.C.E., that he in fact escorted loads of controlled substances.
The report reveals Espinoza, the son of Hidalgo Police Chief Rudy Espinoza, was busted after the ICE, Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in Harlingen received information involving Espinoza.
The federal report states on November 1, 2012, Espinoza agreed to escort and scout for other officers while the drugs would be transported.
Documents show at this time, Espinoza was paid $1,500.
OPR conducted an undercover operation the next day.
According to the report, Espinoza and a co-conspirator were escorting a separate car that was taking 9 kilograms of cocaine from McAllen to Weslaco.
Espinoza was paid another $1,500 after the drugs were unloaded.
The court documents state, a week later, Espinoza and a co-conspirator helped transported another load. During this time, he was paid another $4,000.
Espinoza appeared in a federal courtroom Thursday, and was charged with possession with intent to distribute 9 kilos of cocaine.
Observers say he showed little emotion as the charges were read, and a $100,000 dollar bond was issued.
A McAllen federal Judge also ordered Espinoza surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitoring device, check into a rehabilitation center and banned him from crossing any U.S. point of entry or checkpoint.
Alexis Espinoza TMs father, Chief Rudy Espinoza, released this comment to Action 4 News:
Today I am in support of federal agencies as well as any local police units that are involved in the federal probe related to allegations of police misconduct within a special task force for the mission Police Department
It is unfortunate that a close family member is involved in these proceedings but has a longtime supporter and enforcer of the judicial system I believe that all allegations and police investigations must proceed with clear definition and with proper course
Espinoza TMs next court hearing will be held next May.
The multi-agency investigation has led to numerous arrests of law enforcement officers in Hidalgo County including Jonathan Trevino, the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe Lupe Trevino.
Sources inside the investigation told Action 4 News the following men have been arrested:
Jonathan Trevino-Mission Police Task Force OfficerFabian Rodriguez-Hidalgo County Sheriff Task Force OfficerHeraldo Duran-Hidalgo County Sheriff Task Force Officer
Alexis Espinosa-Mission Police Task Force Officer
STATEMENT FROM U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, SOUTHERN DISTRICT:
"Earlier this year, agents learned that members of the HCSO Panama Unit were involved in the distribution of narcotics, according to the court documents. The Panama Unit is a task force designed to target narcotics trafficking in Hidalgo County and is comprised of law enforcement officers from HCSO and MPD. The investigation revealed that members of the Panama Unit, including Trevino, Espinoza, Rodriguez and Duran, allegedly utilized their positions as law enforcement personnel to escort and protect loads of narcotics and were paid for their services. The case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement " Office of Professional Responsibility, the Texas Rangers and Department of Justice " Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Anibal Alanis and James Sturgis are prosecuting the case."