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Contraband
03/07/2019

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South Texas jury convicts local police officer of aiding and abetting, intent to distribute cocaine

MCALLEN, Texas — A South Texas jury convicted a Progreso (Texas) police officer on two counts of aiding and abetting, and attempting to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.  

This conviction 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) under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and IRS’s Criminal Investigation assisted this investigation.

Giovanni Hernandez, 45, from Weslaco, Texas, was convicted March 7 for his role in aiding and abetting that included attempting to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

According to court documents, the jury heard that from March through August 2017, a confidential source met with Hernandez 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 participated in it. The jury was not convinced and convicted him on all counts as charged.

Hernandez had been previously released on bond but was remanded to custody after the verdict was announced. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing which is set for May 22, 2019. At that time, he faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million dollar maximum fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Sturgis, Kristen Rees and Anibal Alaniz, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.  

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/11/2019