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July 18, 2019McAllen, TX, United StatesNarcotics

Former South Texas police officer sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for cocaine trafficking

MCALLEN, Texas — A former South Texas police officer was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in federal prison following his cocaine-trafficking conviction in March.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

“This sentence serves as a sobering reminder about the serious consequences for those who violate the public’s trust,” said Shane Folden, special agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI San Antonio. “HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to target and investigate those who exploit their positions for financial gain.”

On July 18, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered Geovani Hernandez, 45, from Weslaco, Texas, to serve 240 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court noted the evidence against Hernandez was overwhelming. In imposing the sentence, the court ruled Hernandez abused his position of trust to facilitate the drug trafficking offense and obstructed justice when he attempted to intimidate both the case agent and confidential informant to prevent them from testifying at trial. Hernandez was convicted March 7 on two counts of aiding and abetting and attempting to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

According to court documents, Hernandez had been employed as a Progreso, Texas, police sergeant from March through August 2017, when a confidential source met with him seeking assistance for a drug trafficking organization. The meetings culminated in Hernandez agreeing to scout for law enforcement to enable a vehicle he believed contained a controlled substance to pass through the Progreso area undetected. At trial, the jury heard recordings between the informant and Hernandez discussing scouting for the drug load. The government presented evidence that once the drug load made it successfully through Progreso on July 15, 2017, Hernandez gave the informant his Progreso police badge.

Hernandez’s defense team attacked the credibility of the witnesses and denied that Hernandez had any knowledge of the drug trafficking scheme, and denied he participating in it. The jury was not convinced and convicted him on all counts as charged.

Hernandez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) James Sturgis, Kristen Rees and Anibal Alaniz, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case; AUSA Anibal Alaniz and Casey Macdonald prosecuted the drug trafficking case.