Texas Border County Judge Arrested in DEA Raid

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A justice of the peace from a Texas border county is one of 19 individuals recently arrested by federal authorities on drug charges. The case is the latest to include officials from Starr County, an area with a long history of public corruption and cartel ties.

The raid took place Wednesday morning when more than 150 DEA agents raided homes in Starr County, including one belonging to Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Roel Valadez, The Monitor reported. Valadez is one of 19 suspects arrested on drug charges from an unsealed indictment. The investigation that led to the raid began in June 2020, a DEA supervisor told the Monitor, adding that other individuals have already been arrested in Laredo and Austin. Authorities reportedly seized weapons, vehicles, and cash in the raids. In previous seizures related to the case, authorities found more than 660 pounds of methamphetamine, 6,600 pounds of marijuana, $100,000 cash, and 2.2 pounds of fentanyl, The Monitor reported.

Valadez is expected to go before a U.S. magistrate judge this week to be formally notified of charges. He is the latest in a long line of public officials in Starr County arrested on drug or public corruption charges.

— In July 2015, Justice of the Peace Salvador Zarate turned himself in to authorities on bribery charges after demanding cash payments for lower bonds.

–In April 2015, Noel Pena, a former Rio Grande City police officer and a Starr County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force investigator was arrested for allegedly staging fake drug seizures to steal drugs.

— In November 2014, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Starr County Sheriff’s Deputy Amy Reyes after finding more than 75 pounds of marijuana in her personal vehicle at a checkpoint.

—  In 2013, Romeo Javier “RJ” Ramirez, a former sheriff’s captain who was in charge of the jail division, pleaded guilty to bribery charges for taking money from the Gulf Cartel in exchange for sensitive law enforcement information.

— In 2012, Nazario Solis, a sheriff’s deputy, was arrested for working for a Gulf Cartel boss in Mexico by trying to supply semi-automatic rifles and helping with drug shipments.

— In 2008, former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo “Rey” Guerra was convicted on drug conspiracy charges for giving free passage to members of the Gulf Cartel.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com

Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.     

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