New Chapter Begins for Forensic Detective Set to Retire after 37 Years

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WESLACO – An expert in finding the tiniest details in evidence for criminal cases is retiring after 37 years.

Joe Marchan is the Crime Lab Manager at the regional office of the Texas Department of Public Safety in Weslaco. He says his focus is on the details.

“It has to be because we’re dealing with people’s lives and so we can’t make mistakes,” he said. “How does it affect the case? The people involved? Because you have victims, suspect, judges, attorneys.”

When Valley police departments work a criminal case they head to the office, Marchan’s team of experts put it under the microscope and dig for the details. Their work can make or break the case.

“They identify drugs, powders, pills, capsules,” he explained.

DPS Regional Director Joe Rodriguez is the immediate supervisor. He says Marchan is passionate about his work.

“Joe has established great relationships with the different police departments, with the district attorneys, where they easily pick up the phone and help each other out,” he said.

Marchan says the years have come and gone.

“The very first day he came on board I was a young policeman in McAllen. I went to submit some evidence and he was standing there looking a little bit lost,” Tony Pena with the DPS Emergency Management said.

Marchan quickly brought his department to its prime.

“One of the very few in the United States that became accredited first. When we testify in court we have to be accredited. So we’re accredited for firearms, latent prints, DNA, drugs and blood alcohol,” he said.

DPS Joe Rodriguez says Marchan has had a lot of good influence on the personnel.

He’s even added his little touch to the office.

“He came to me with an idea about planting some native trees. Orange trees. Some lemon trees. He wanted to make the Valley speak here at this location,” Rodriguez said.

After nearly four decades of service, Marchan says it’s time for him to start a new chapter.

He did mention there will be certain aspects of the job that he’ll miss.

“I guess the biggest thing is the staff. They’re like my second family. And I get emotional because… they work really hard and they’re never given appreciation as to the work they do,” he said.