"Predatory drug trafficker" among new suspects in Panama Unit scandal

New indictment expands Panama Unit scandal to 10 suspects

An Edinburg man jailed for stealing drug loads from other drug traffickers is one of the latest suspects named in the Panama Unit scandal.

The public corruption scandal involving law enforcement officers protecting drug traffickers expanded to ten suspects with a new indictment filed on Wednesday.

Three of the new suspects are former Hidalgo County Sheriff TMs Office deputies while three others are drug trafficking suspects.

All three of the drug trafficking suspects named in the new indictment are in custody for their roles in other crimes.

None of the former deputies appear to have been taken into custody at this time.

Predatory Drug Trafficker

One of the three drug trafficking suspects named in the new indictment is Edinburg resident Fernando Guerra, Sr.

DEA agents arrested Guerra back in February.

Court records filed in the February case show that Guerra worked hand-in-hand with corrupt law enforcement officials.

Guerra and the corrupt law enforcement officials often targeted other drug traffickers, stole their loads and then sold them.

Both Guerra and his son Fernando Guerra, Jr. allegedly participated in the scheme.

18-Wheeler Drug Smuggling

Both Fernando Guerra, Jr. and drug trafficking suspect Alvaro Gilberto DeHoyos are also named in the new Panama Unit indictment.

Court records show that U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents filed sealed charges against them in January.

HSI agents arrested Fernando Guerra, Jr. in early February and arrested DeHoyos in San Antonio on Monday.

A criminal complaint filed in the case show Guerra, Jr. and DeHoyos made secret compartments inside 18-wheelers to smuggle drugs.

Court Hearing

All ten suspects named in the new indictment are expected to be arraigned in McAllen TMs federal court next week.

The new indictment shows that federal prosecutors intend to seize $2.5 million dollars in assets from Guerra and his son.

Public records show that the two own several properties off FM 2812 and Sunrise Lane just northeast of Edinburg.

Other records show that DeHoyos lives off of Greenland Circle North in Palmview.

Authorities raided his neighbor TMs home in connection to a deadly crash that claimed the lives of nine illegal immigrants in April 2012.

Past Crimes

Court records show that both Fernando Guerra, Sr. and DeHoyos have past criminal histories.

Pharr police arrested Guerra back in April 1994 for resisting arrest.

Records show that the Edinburg man got 30 days in jail and one year on probation for the crime.

Palmview police arrested DeHoyos for felony possession of marijuana back in January 2010.

Court records show that he was serving a 10-year probation sentence at the time he was arrested for the new federal charges.

Disgraced Drug Unit

A federal grand jury originally charged Jonathan Christian Trevio, Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, Fabian Rodriguez, and Gerardo Mendoza-Duran back in January.

Trevio is the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevio while Espinoza is the son of Hidalgo Police Chief Raul Espinoza.

Trevio, Espinoza, Rodriguez and Mendoza-Duran were all part of the Panama Unit, an anti-drug task force set up to fight street-level drug dealers in Hidalgo County.

But federal prosecutors allege that the four took bribes to protect drug loads.

The new indictment also names former Hidalgo County Sheriff TMs deputies Salvador Joel Arguello, Claudio Alberto Mata, and Eric Michael Alcantar as part of the scandal.