Federal agents arrest Starr County man accused of destroying surveillance cameras
McALLEN — A Starr County man considered a leader in a well-known drug trafficking organization in Rio Grande City was arrested Friday and is now facing federal charges for destruction of federal property.
Jose Luis Garcia went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker on Monday morning. The charge against him is related to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration cameras that were damaged in August 2019, according to the criminal complaint against him.
Search warrants were obtained at that time for an investigation involving Jose Luis Garcia's brother, Juan Indalecio Garcia, and two other men, Daniel Sepulveda and Evaristo Sepulveda. Federal agents believe all three belong to a drug trafficking organization.
Jose Luis Garcia's alleged criminal activity was also discussed during the trial of his son, Jose Luis Garcia Jr., who was acquitted in the murder of Starr county teenager Chayse Olivarez.
Agents from the U.S. Border Patrol, the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, which is a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the Texas Rangers served the warrants in August at two Rio Grande City properties located at Midway and Alegria Circle. Both locations are suspected of being used as staging points for drugs and cash.
Agents who served the warrants at the Midway property, where Daniel and Rene Sepulveda are believed to reside, discovered $83,920 in cash, 15 firearms and two cell phones. After his phones were seized, Daniel Sepulveda talked to agents about surveillance cameras set up on telephone poles near the property at the intersection of Midway Road and Expressway 83, according to the criminal complaint. He told agents he wanted them to be taken down.
On the same day, a search warrant was served at a property located on Alegria Street, where Jose Luis Garcia is believed to reside with his partner. There agents found a radio frequency jammer, four handguns, four rifles, hand-written notes, cell phones and shrink-wrapped bags of cash scattered about the property. Altogether, the money totaled about $275,000. At one point, according to the criminal complaint, Jose Luis Garcia told an agent, "You know what I do, and I know what you do. I am tired."
Agents also took note of a black Daniel Defense AR-15 style rifle with a scope in a green-colored rifle case in the master bedroom. That was not seized. A green-colored rifle case resembling the one in his home was spotted later that evening when Jose Luis Garcia left his residence with Daniel and Rene Sepulveda. About an hour after they were seen leaving the home, agents noticed two surveillance cameras located at the intersection of Expressway 83 and N. Suntex Road and another at the Midway property were no longer operable.
The following day, bullet holes in the cameras suggested they had been shot. A Texas Rangers investigation in September 2019 determined the shots came from the direction of the Midway property belonging to the Sepulveda family.
A search of phone records found that Jose Luis Garcia had ordered Daniel Sepulveda to destroy the surveillance cameras, saying "it has gone too far."
Jose Luis Garcia is charged with destroying an object with the intent to impair the object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.
During Monday morning's initial appearance, the U.S. attorney in this case, Patricia Profit, requested no bond be set because Jose Luis Garcia is "a danger to the community and a flight risk."
Garcia's attorney, Israel Rivera, was not present. A detention hearing is scheduled for later this week.
Profit is also the U.S. attorney handling the case against Garcia's brother and the Sepulvedas, who are suspected of belonging to the same organization.