Posted: Dec 3, 2012 6:25 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2012 10:31 PM
EDINBURG - Security will be heightened at an Hidalgo County courthouse for the trial of an alleged Gulf cartel member.
Jose Luis Alvarez is accused in the attempted murder of an Hidalgo County sheriff's deputy. Sheriff Lupe Trevino said this is the first official recorded case of spillover violence.
Jury selection began Monday afternoon. Opening arguments are expected for Tuesday.
Judge Noe Gonzalez requested extra security measures for the trial. Tighter security already was in place Monday and will continue for the duration of the trial.
Prosecutors said Alvarez was hired to recover a load of marijuana. The incident ended in a shootout with Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies.
Alvarez's links to the Gulf cartel have not been confirmed, officials said. Still, court officials are not taking any chances.
"We gave them extra deputies. We gave an extra wand to screen all participants and all visitors to the courtroom," Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said.
"I think we're going to do OK. We have plenty of folks there in the immediate area ready to respond ... plus a couple of full-time deputies in the courtroom," Trevino said.
"When he asks for extra security, you don't think about it twice," Trevino said of Gonzalez's request.
Alvarez's attorney asked that deputies leave their weapons out of the courtroom. That request was immediately denied.
"We can only react to what's being fed to us. The district judge is one of the most credible people that we deal with on a daily basis. The protection of the judiciary is one of my priorities in this courtroom," Trevino said.