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Two Guards Tried to Smuggle Meth into Texas Jail, Say Feds

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Bexar County

Two former detention guards were indicted for their alleged roles in an attempted scheme to smuggle methamphetamine to inmates at a Texas jail, according to federal officials.

The ex-officers, Gabriel Robert Ortiz and Ruben Hernandez, worked at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center in San Antonio. On Thursday, these men were arrested and later stood before a U.S. magistrate where a four count federal grand jury indictment was unsealed. It charged Ortiz, 29, and Hernandez, 26, with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Additionally, Ortiz was charged with three substantive counts of attempted possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Hernandez also was charged with one substantive count of attempted possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The indictment accused the defendants of trying to carry out a scheme that provided contraband to detention center inmates earlier this year from May 4 until June 22, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. Officials stated that Ortiz and Hernandez were hired by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office on July 10, 2017. They graduated from the same academy class and they remained probationary deputies when they were fired in late June 2018.

At a news conference, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar commented he was “extremely disappointed” by the arrests. He said the Sheriff’s Office learned about the scheme when they received a tip about such alleged activity. He noted his office acted immediately, reporting the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) public corruption task force. The federal agency then opened an investigation with Salazar and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office as part of a sting operation. Salazar also told reporters that the sting operation was set up in late June at which time the two guards who were under investigation were terminated.

Ortiz and Hernandez were released on $50,000 bond each following the initial appearance in federal court. The San Antonio Express-News reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Farrer ordered the pair to avoid contact with each another as one of the conditions of their bond restrictions. They are scheduled for arraignment in early August.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.

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