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Latest Panama Unit Defendant in Court

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Posted: Mar 22, 2013 11:41 AM

Updated: Mar 28, 2013 8:22 AM

MCALLEN - A retired Hidalgo County sheriff's sergeant faced a judge today in connection with the Panama Unit drug conspiracy.

James Phil Flores remains in custody. He was formerly part of the sheriff department's Crime Stoppers program.

A newly released criminal complaint accuses Flores of using his position to rip off cocaine loads, then splitting the profits of drug sales with Fernando Guerra Sr.

Guerra is a known drug trafficker in Hidalgo County and is currently under indictment for his suspected role in the Panama Unit case.

Flores' defense attorney asked a magistrate judge to hold a bond hearing in hopes of having his client make bail. He said the 47-year-old retired sergeant struggles to breathe at night because of a medical condition.

The judge said no. A federal statute requires people accused of serious crimes to wait three business days before their bond hearing is held. The judge said Flores' case is no exception. Flores was sent back to jail in his t-shirt and jeans.

Flores is the eighth former law enforcement officer to be arrested in the Panama Unit case. Attorneys on both sides expect he won't be the last.

The other ex-officers charged in the case include members of the now-defunct drug task force, which was known as the Panama Unit.

Topics: Mcallen, panama unit, james phil flores, drug conspiracy, drug task force

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