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County Approves $150,000 Settlement in Panama Unit Civil Lawsuit

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Posted: May 7, 2014 12:01 PM

Updated: May 7, 2014 12:03 PM

MCALLEN - Hidalgo County has approved a $150,000 settlement in connection with the Panama Unit drug conspiracy.

The plaintiffs in the civil suit said six armed Panama Unit drug task force members stormed their property, demanding money or contraband they thought was on the property. The home invasion happened on December 5, 2012. According to the plaintiffs, a 15-year-old in the house was handcuffed and held at gunpoint for four hours.

The now-defunct Panama Unit consisted of Mission police officers and Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies, which is why the plaintiffs are suing both the city and county. The lawsuit also names Jonathan Trevino and Gerardo Mendoza-Duran. Both those men were part of the drug task force and sentenced last week on drug trafficking charges.

The county's attorney told the court the county approved the settlement amount. While it will cover the defendants the county employed, it won't cover Jonathan Trevino, who was a city of Mission employee.

The attorney for Mission said the city hasn't hired an attorney for Trevino, and the city's insurance carrier refused to cover the claim. It remains to be seen if the city will settle the lawsuit.

It's not the only lawsuit involving the Panama Unit. A second lawsuit was filed in connection with a July 26, 2012 home invasion committed by the unit. Attorneys told the court a mediator would be needed to help settle the case.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS will continue to track the cases as they wind their way through the court system.

Topics: McAllen, hidalgo county, panama unit, home invasion, court, settlement, lawsuits, jonathan Trevino, Gerardo Mendoza-Duran

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