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Cop Watch: Starr County Sheriff Rey Guerra Pleads Guilty to Drug Smuggling

Reymundo “Rey” Guerra was Sheriff of Starr County, Texas, for several years — in fact, he was running for re-election last year when the FBI arrested him on drug trafficking charges. That made it hard for the citizens of Starr County since Rey Guerra was the only name on the ballot. They re-elected Guerra despite his troubles.

Guerra Was Re-elected and Had to Resign His Post – Twice

As a condition of his bond, Rey Guerra resigned his post before the election. Then, the voters elected him back as Sheriff, and he had to resign the post a second time. Yeah, this game of musical chairs really happened.

Sheriff Guerra wasn’t busted all by himself — he was first arrested as part of a big nationwide bust of Gulf Cartel members by the feds back last Fall. In fact, the feds describe him as a “minor participant” in the Cartel’s operations.

What Did Starr County Sheriff Rey Guerra Do That Was So Wrong?

Seems there was a human smuggling group in the Starr County area led by a man who used to be a cop in Mexico, name of Jose Carlos Hinojosa. Guerra and Hinojosa met when they were both in law enforcement.

However, like many stories out of Mexico these days, Hinojosa traded his job with Mexican law authorities for employment with a national drug organization: this one, the infamous Zetas. The Zetas are a feared paramilitary group with close affiilations with the Gulf Cartel. (Hinojosa’s already pled guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy.)

Hinojosa would help Guerra get suspects back from Mexico who had escaped across the border, and in exchange, Guerra would give Hinojosa the names and contact information of informants targeted for raids in Starr County. Guerra didn’t do this thinking that Hinojosa was still a cop — Guerra did this knowing that Hinojosa was now a member of the Zetas, and had apparently known this as far back as January 2007.

Oh, and Guerra also got paid $2,000 – $3,000 for each scoop on informants he provided.

Now, he’s pled guilty to one federal count of drug smuggling conspiracy, just one week before his trial.

As part of his plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sheriff Rey Guerra has admitted to using his elected office as Sheriff of Starr County, Texas, to help drug dealers (read that the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas) as they trafficked in narcotics in Starr County and Miguel Alemán, Tamps, Mexico.

Right now, ex-Sheriff Guerra faces spending the rest of his life in prison. The federal sentencing hearing is set for July.

And, if you’re thinking that putting a former Sheriff into a federal prison for the rest of his life is akin to a death sentence of sorts, you might well be right.


The Monitor

The Brownsville Herald

The Associated Press

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