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Gov't seeks to keep thousands seized from Starr Co. property

6 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Friday, February 28 2020 Feb 28, 2020 February 28, 2020 10:37 AM February 28, 2020 in News

The government is requesting to keep money they seized from a man suspected to belong to a drug trafficking family in Starr County. The money's owner said it was from a land deal that his accountant advised was "tax free."

A federal lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Texas on Wednesday. They are requesting to forfeit on the money federal agent seized from Jose Luis Garcia, Jr. on August 30, 2019. 

The search warrant was part of several warrants executed against people suspected of trafficking drugs on the Midway property in Rio Grande City. 

When agents arrived to the property where Garcia is suspected to currently reside, Garcia admitted to keeping a large sum of money in a backyard safe and provided agents with the passcode. They discovered weapons and $210,000 in cash that was vacuum-sealed and wrapped with dryer sheets, currency bands and rubber bands. The government considers the storage method consistent with money proceeds gained from narcotics sale. An additional $48,735 was found scattered about the property in an ammunition can, an Adidas bag, and in the pocket of the safe door. 

A cartel message was also found when agents searched Garcia's truck. According to the complaint, a written message was found warning "about reprisals from the CDG," Cartel del Golfo. 

Other items associated with illegal bulk cash smuggling were found. Agents located a money counter, a bag with currency bands, a portable digital radio, and a frequency signal jammer. These jammers are used to block cell signals or law enforcement game cameras from relaying pictures in real time. They can be used to during smuggling events to impede law enforcement communication and surveillance. Government officials believe Garcia and his associates were employing these devices during smuggling events.

According to Garcia, the money was the result of a land sold in Mexico by a friend. Yet, no documentation was produced to verify his claim. Garcia said he didn't know the name of the friend who sold his land. He also suspected the buyer paid for the Mexican property with narcotics proceeds. Garcia then kept the money in cash after an accountant told him it was "tax free." 

The government is now asking a federal court to make a forfeiture determination to keep the defendant's cash. 

Garcia's name surfaced during the trial of his son, Jose Luis Garcia Jr. who was acquitted of the murder charge against Chayse Olivarez. Lawyers and prosecutors spoke about a well-known drug trafficking rivalry between the defendant and victim's fathers.  More recently, Garcia was named as the person suspected of shooting out DEA cameras found near the Midway property described as a "cartel staging ground" by U.S. prosecutors.

Jose Luis Garica Sr. is the brother of Juan Indalecio Garcia who is detained and suspected of leading the drug trafficking operations in Midway some time after their uncle, Salvador Garcia was heading the organization in the early 2000s. 

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