McALLEN — A former Donna ISD police officer allegedly involved in a 20-person drug conspiracy pleaded guilty to a marijuana conspiracy charge Wednesday, court records show.
Juan Fernando Mata stood before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez Wednesday for a re-arraignment hearing related to the case, which involves 19 other defendants including former Hidalgo County bailiff Oscar De La Cruz.
De La Cruz recently pleaded guilty to his own conspiracy charge in the case.
Mata, 40, reversed his original not guilty plea and pleaded true to conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in exchange government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining two counts, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and conspiracy to import narcotics, court records show.
According to the indictment against Mata and several others, he allegedly participated in a conspiracy to move 5 or more kilos of cocaine between Jan. 14, 2016, and Feb. 5, 2018, court documents show.
The Donna native was also involved in a conspiracy to move more than 200 pounds of marijuana, between May 10 and June 6, 2017, the charge he pleaded guilty to earlier this week, the records show.
That original indictment, along with a recent superseding indictment filed this month, alleges Mata, a former law enforcement police officer, as well as Marin “Filtro” Macrin Cerda, Jose Miguel “El Mickey” Montemayor, Cesar Alejandro “Nucho” Tovar-Guillén (or “El Sobrino”), and others were part of a drug conspiracy connected to a local group called “Los Mikis.”
Several members of “Los Mikis” were arrested in October 2017 in connection with a series of burglaries, other purported felonies, and engaging in organized criminal activity in the San Juan area, the police chief there said at the time of their arrests.
Four of the 20 defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced, the first sentence coming in May 2018, court records show.
Montemayor, Cerda and Tovar-Guillén await sentencing in late January in connection with the conspiracy case, court records show.
Additional defendants connected to the “Los Mikis” case who pleaded guilty and are also pending sentencing include Miguel Marin “Tigre” Cerda, 30; Jose “Coco” Garcia-De La Torre, 22; Carlos Guadalupe “Tomy” Aquino-Pacheco, 20; and Alfredo “Chore” Avalos-Sanchez, 26.
Other defendants also pending the sentence are Gustavo Angel “Tripa” De Leon-Covarrubias, 19; Jose Arturo “Gordo” Reyes-Sanchez, 19; Juan Antonio “Paisa” Flores; 27, Antonio Javier “Little T” Gomez, 28; Sergio Alejandro Gallegos-Tovar and Francisco Javier Montemayor, as well as Robert Lee Rodriguez.
Mata, who remains free on a 150,000 bond, is due back for sentencing April 9, records show.