A former La Joya Police Chief faces federal drug charges after a more than yearlong investigation revealed he was allegedly working as a member of a drug trafficking organization.
Federal agents arrested Geovani Hernandez, 43, of La Joya, over the weekend in connection with a federal investigation that revealed the former head of the La Joya Police department had been working with a go-between contact for an unidentified drug trafficking organization, according to court records.
Hernandez stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos on Monday morning for his initial appearance where he heard the charges against him.
He is set for a detention hearing Friday where it is possible he could be released on bond.
Hernandez, who resigned from the La Joya police department in January 2015 to pursue business interests, faces three federal charges, attempt to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine, and aiding and abetting, according to court records unsealed Monday.
Hernandez, Progreso Police officials said, was employed as a "provisionary sergeant," but did not specify how long he had been with the department.
During an extraordinarily brief news conference Progreso Police officials announced Hernandez, who was being investigated during his time at Progreso, was no longer with the department effective Monday.
They said they received word of his arrest on federal drug charges but refused to take questions from members of the media.
He ran unsuccessful bids for Hidalgo County Sheriff in 2012 and 2014.
The complaint details Hernandez’s communication and meetings with confidential informants working with the government on at least six different occasions.
Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations in McAllen received word in Aug. 2016 that Hernandez was helping move drugs as a member of an unidentified drug trafficking organization, the complaint states.
On May 30 Hernandez met with a confidential informant to discuss an “illegal business venture.”
During the meeting Hernandez allegedly told the informant that he needed money for his Hidalgo County Constable campaign. He also told the informant that he was a close friend of Gulf Cartel Plaza boss Juan Manuel Loza-Salinas, aka “El Toro,” who ran a plaza in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the complaint states.
“ (The confidential informant) told Hernandez that his organization was sending vehicles north and that they needed to run record checks on vehicles. Hernandez told the CI to find him the vehicles’ identifiers and that he would get him the information they needed in exchange for $1,000,” the complaint states.
Hernandez met with the CI days later where he handed the CI a document that contained detailed information regarding the vehicle license plate.
In late June, Hernandez met again with the CI; this time the CI handed Hernandez a note with a person’s name and date of birth and asked him to run a background check on the person to see if they were working as an informant.
He was paid approximately $2,000 to do this, records show.
In another instance just last month the CI met with Hernandez again and said they needed to drive a vehicle for the trafficking organization from Progreso to Pharr. The CI told Hernandez that they would drive to a warehouse in Progreso where they would load the trafficking organization’s “items” and transport them to Pharr.
The CI told Hernandez that he would receive half of the $10,000 they were receiving for the job.
“Hernandez told the CI not to tell him what the vehicle would be transporting, not to discuss any details on their current cell phones and to buy new cell phones,” court records show.
A month later the two met again.
“On July 15, 2017, based on phone calls, meetings and payments to Hernandez, HSI agents in anticipation of the operation, loaded 10 bricks of a white powdery substance weighing approximately 10 kilograms into an undercover vehicle,” the complaint states. “Only 1 brick weighing approximately 1.1 kilos contained cocaine hydrochloride — subsequently (the CI) took possession of the vehicle.”
The CI told Hernandez during that meeting that the organization needed his help to make sure the vehicle got through Progreso without being stopped; Hernandez allegedly agreed and told the CI to get into his own personal vehicle, the complaint states.
Later that day Hernandez was paid $5,000 for his services.
The investigation into Hernandez, dubbed Operation Blue Shame, was a collaborative effort between several law enforcement agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and IRS Criminal Investigations, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The former Progreso sergeant appeared as an actor in a narco-corrido music video that focused on drug-running cocaine from Mission to Houston. The video, published in November, re-surfaced the same day news broke about Hernandez’s arrest.
Gerardo Hernandez, the musical talent, sings about the smuggling of 6,000 kilos through the checkpoint near Encino — more commonly referred to as the Falfurrias checkpoint.
It’s unclear if Geovani Hernandez and Gerardo Hernandez are related
The song appears to reference a deal between narcos and law enforcement officers to successfully transport 10trucks filled with 600 kilos of cocaine each. The former Progreso sergeant appears to represent a law enforcement officer in the video.
“In a lapse of 30 minutes, each truck was arriving,” the song stated in Spanish. “They would put them in the warehouse and they would unload them. Each bundle accounted for — replete with white powder."
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