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Former Starr County lawman sentenced to prison

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Romeo Javier Ramirez Jr.

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A Houston-based federal judge Monday ordered a former Starr County lawman to spend a year in prison after he admitted to taking money from drug traffickers in exchange for police information.

Former Starr County Sheriffs Capt. Romeo Javier Compadre Nacho Ramirez, 41, went before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who sentenced him to 12 months and one day in prison.

Ramirez was arrested on March 12. He pleaded guilty a month after to a violation of the Hobbs Act, which deals with public servants taking bribes.

According to court records, from January 2006 to September 2008, Ramirez accepted about $30,000 from drug traffickers in exchange for the location of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

The indictment says Ramirez on Feb. 25, 2008, talked with an unidentified person about avoiding DPS troopers, referred to as negros, or the black ones, and holding drug cash.

Two days after, on Feb. 27, Ramirez was talked about meeting with the leader of a drug organization, the indictment states. He mentioned how the criminals phones need to be thrown away, and how they talked about a loan to pay for a lawyer an arrested co-conspirator.

And on Feb. 28, 2008, Ramirez talked with an unnamed individual about getting a police report and having it translated into Spanish. He also told a leader of the conspiracy that the Drug Enforcement Administration knew about the $2.4 million and used DPS troopers to perform the traffic stop in McAllen.

Before his arrest, Ramirez was in charge of the jail division for the Starr County Sheriffs Office. Ramirez became a lawman even though in 1996 he was convicted of criminally negligent homicide after a fatal wreck West of Alto Bonito. The corrupt lawman was sentenced to two years probation for the wreck, which killed 28-year-old Enrique Garcia Salinas of Rio Grande City. After the probation time was served, the judge dismissed the guilty plea in a program called deferred adjudication.

While felony deferred adjudication cases now disqualify a person for life from getting a peace officers license in Texas, at the time of Ramirezs application TCLEOSE rules didnt cover that loophole.

iortiz@themonitor.com

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