McALLEN, Texas - A 45-year-old former sergeant with the
Progresso Police Department has been convicted of two counts of aiding and
abetting the attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five
kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. The jury
deliberated for three hours before convicting Giovanni Hernandez, of Weslaco,
following a four-day trial.
Hernandez had been a sergeant with the Progreso Police
Department. The jury heard that from March through August 2017, a confidential
source met with Hernandez seeking assistance for a drug trafficking
organization. The meetings culminated in Hernandez agreeing to scout for law
enforcement to enable a vehicle he believed contained a controlled substance to
pass through the Progreso area undetected.
At trial, the jury heard recordings between the informant
and Hernandez discussing scouting for the drug load. The government presented
evidence that once the drug load made it successfully through Progreso on July
15, 2017, Hernandez gave the informant his Progreso police badge.
The defense attempted to attack the credibility of the
witnesses and denied any of Hernandez's knowledge of the drug trafficking
scheme or his attempt to participate in it. The jury was not convinced and
convicted him on all counts as charged.
Hernandez had been previously released on bond but was
remanded to custody after the verdict where he will remain pending his
sentencing hearing, set for May 22, 2019. At that time, he faces a minimum of
10 years in federal prison as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security
Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS - Criminal
Investigations conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation
which was dubbed Operation Blue Shame. Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) James H.
Sturgis and Kristen J. Rees are prosecuting this case. AUSA Anibal Alaniz is
prosecuting the related drug trafficking case.