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CBP

Bond denied for Mexican drug trafficker accused of plotting to kill border agents

U.S. Marshals (U.S. Air Force/Released)

A Rio Grande City man known as the leader of a drug trafficking organization will remain in federal custody pending trial after a court ruled against a bond, records show.

Jose Luis Garcia was remanded into the custody of U.S. Marshals after a court decided it would not grant the man a bond after the government presented evidence that attempted to argue Garcia was a violent man and a flight risk.

Although the charges against Garcia are related to the destruction of federal property, the government presented evidence showing Garcia is allegedly also the head of an organization determined to get retribution on federal agents looking into their illegal activities.

In the government’s explanation it cited strong evidence against Garcia in the destruction of property case, a history of violence and or use of weapons, and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted as reasons to why it believed the court should deny the bond.

In a further explanation, the government alleged in its motion that in January 2019, Garcia allegedly, after federal agents seized more than 300 kilograms of cocaine tied to his organization, sent text messages that indicated he was working on putting together a list to take to Mexico to get permission to turn agents into “soup,” the document stated.

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“In other words, (Garcia) was looking to kill these (agents) and dispose of their bodies in acid,” the court record shows. “The government stated that (Garcia) was trying to get the name of a particular (U.S.) Border Patrol agent and had the names of other Border Patrol agents, who (Garcia) believed was (sic) interfering with the drug trafficking organization.”

Text messages purportedly from Garcia also indicated he allegedly made threats against Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar, who was pursuing charges against Garcia’s son. The 42-year-old Rio Grande City man is the father of Jose Luis Garcia Jr., who was recently acquitted of the murder of Chayse Olivarez.

“Finally, there were text messages that indicated (Garcia) was asking others if they would flee to Mexico with him,” the document stated.

The current complaint against Garcia alleges that in August 2019, Garcia “knowingly and corruptly altered, destroyed, mutilated, or concealed a record, document, or other object, or attempted to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.”

According to the complaint, this allegedly occurred when he ordered a member of his drug trafficking organization to destroy pole cameras.

The arrest came about after the U.S. Border Patrol, along with other law enforcement agencies, served a search warrant at two residences in Rio Grande City that allegedly were used by members of the Garcia drug trafficking organization — the first at 25 Midway Road and the other at 39 Alegria Circle, records show.

On that day, Aug. 30, law enforcement encountered Rene and Daniel Sepulveda, brothers identified as members of the Garcia drug trafficking organization, at the Midway address.

During the search, agents discovered more than $83,000 in bulk cash, 15 firearms and two of Daniel Sepulveda’s cellphones.

“Upon seizing his phones, Daniel Sepulveda confronted a (DEA agent). Speaking in an aggressive tone, Daniel Sepulveda stated that he wanted DEA to take down the DEA’s cameras located on a telephone pole across the street from Daniel Sepulveda’s house and on a telephone pole located at the intersection of Midway Road and Expressway 83,” the complaint stated.

The DEA agent told Daniel Sepulveda that “they were not DEA’s cameras,” but Daniel responded stating he knew they were because he had asked someone at the electric company.

“At that time, Rene Sepulveda stated it was against (his) and Daniel Sepulveda’s constitutional rights to be watched by the government. (The DEA agent) relayed to other agents in the proximity that he observed Daniel Sepulveda was agitated and upset about the search warrant conducted at (his) residence and law enforcement cameras on Midway Road,” the document stated.

At the other residence, 39 Alegria Circle, agents encountered Garcia, identified by agents as the head of the Garcia drug trafficking organization, and Daniela Ruiz.

“During a search of the master bedroom, agents observed a green colored rifle case that contained a black colored Daniel Defense AR-15 style rifle with a scope,” the criminal complaint stated. “Agents observed that the rifle case was leaning against the bedroom bed and was situated on top of two of the bed’s pillows.”

During the search of Garcia’s residence, agents discovered a radio frequency jammer, firearms, four handguns, four rifles and several bags full of bulk cash scattered around the residence, totaling $275,205, the document stated.

Agents also found handwritten notes around the property, and Garcia’s pickup truck.

At one point, Garcia made a statement to the Border Patrol agent in charge at the scene, purportedly admitting to his business.

“You know what I do, and I know what you do. I am tired,” Garcia told the agent, according to the complaint filed against him.

The following day, Aug. 31, 2019, agents checked the pole cameras outside of Sepulveda’s residence and discovered one bullet hole in each camera, the document stated.

Agents executed post warrant analysis on both Garcia’s and Daniel Sepulveda’s cellphones and found communication between Garcia and Daniel Sepulveda in which they discussed the destruction of the pole cameras.

“… (Garcia) ordered Daniel Sepulveda to destroy Border Patrol cameras located in the Midway Road area in Rio Grande City, Texas. Both Daniel Sepulveda and (Garcia) verbalize their frustration with Border Patrol activities in the area and attribute these activities to the pole cameras in the area,” the document stated. “(Garcia) tells Daniel Sepulveda that it has gone too far and orders Daniel Sepulveda to take out the cameras.”

Daniel Sepulveda, also currently in federal custody, faces drug conspiracy, and drug possession charges related to the aforementioned January 2019 seizure of more than 300 kilograms of cocaine, records show.

Also charged in that indictment were Evarista Sepulveda III, and Juan Indalecio Garcia, records show.

Daniel Sepulveda, who is requesting a bond reduction in his case, allegedly threatened federal agents while he was being transported to agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In the motion for a reduced bond, filed on Tuesday, Sepulveda’s counsel claims his client should be released from the Brooks County Detention Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and placed on house arrest.

The government opposes the motion; citing the aforementioned threats, and how his familial ties, like that of his co-defendant, Evaristo Sepulveda III, actually works against his argument that he should be placed on house arrest.

“(Daniel Sepulveda) claimed to DEA agents that he had people on the other side of the hill waiting for them, and at DEA, (he) told the agents that they were lucky he did not have his gun on him because he would kill at least two agents,” the motion states.

The Court has yet to rule on Daniel Sepulveda’s motion for a bond reduction.

On Thursday, Rene Sepulvedamade his initial appearance in federal court related to his arrest in Starr County in connection with a drug smuggling investigation.

In addition to Rene Sepulveda, Jose Jesus Medina-Anaya, and Joshua Islas, were also charged in connection with the investigation.

His arrest is the result of an investigation that began March 30, in which agents received information indicating Rene Sepulveda and his brother, Luis Sepulveda, were using a Honda pickup truck to move narcotics out of Starr County.

Over the course of a week, agents surveilled Rene Sepulveda and others and ultimately arrested Rene Sepulveda on April 7, 2020, records show.

Rene Sepulveda is scheduled for a detention hearing April 14, court notes show.

According to the affidavit, the cameras sustained more than $15,000 in damage.

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© 2020 The Monitor