Local men who smuggled cocaine to Fort Worth plead guilty

McALLEN — A pair of Rio Grande Valley men recently pleaded guilty to federal drug charges related to their alleged involvement in a drug conspiracy, court records show.

Edward Garza, 51, of San Juan, and Hector Javier Valencia Jr., 41, of Weslaco, each pleaded guilty last week to federal drug charges stemming from their alleged roles in the movement of 12 kilos of cocaine, court documents show.

READ THE COMPLAINT

The investigation began in December 2016, when a confidential informant advised FBI agents working in McAllen that Garza, who went by the alias “Huawis,” and Valencia were overseeing the sale of 12 kilos of cocaine belonging to Guillermo Morales, aka “Don Gio,” just days before Morales was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016.

According to the informant, Garza and Valencia received an unknown amount of money to oversee the sale of the cocaine.

Confidential informant 1 told authorities Morales instructed Garza to receive the cocaine coming from the Rio Grande Valley and sell it in Fort Worth on behalf of Morales.

After Morales’ arrest, Garza stayed in Fort Worth to continue selling the cocaine. The confidential informant said Garza had difficulty selling it, so Valencia moved from the Valley to Fort Worth to help Garza sell it.

“(Confidential informant 1), acting on behalf of agents, attempted to obtain the cocaine from Garza and Valencia, but was unsuccessful,” the complaint stated.

On December 14, 2016, a second confidential informant met with Valencia and Garza to obtain drug proceeds derived from the sale of the cocaine.

Later that same day, after several recorded phone calls, Garza and Valencia agreed to meet with the second confidential informant at the Gander Mountain Store located at 459 East Interstate Highway 20 in Arlington, Texas.

DEA Fort Worth agents established surveillance and saw Valencia and Garza arrive in a white Ford Focus to meet with the second confidential informant.

Agents then saw Garza and Valencia get down from the vehicle and pull a duffle bag from the trunk. They placed it in the back seat of the vehicle, and a short time later, the two left the area.

“After the meeting, DEA Fort Worth agents met with (confidential informant 2) and seized the U.S. currency,” the complaint stated. “It was later determined that the black duffle bag contained $92,000 which derived from the sale of cocaine.”

About a month later, in January 2017, confidential informant 1 said Valencia and Garza were in possession of additional drug proceeds from the sale of the original 12 kilograms of cocaine.

Informant 1 told authorities Valencia would be traveling from the Rio Grande Valley to Fort Worth around February 2, 2017 and said Garza was still in Fort Worth in possession of the drug proceeds derived from the sale of the remaining kilograms of cocaine.

On Feb. 2, 2017, agents recorded multiple telephone calls to Valencia who agreed to meet with an undercover agent at a Chevron gas station in Mansfield, Texas.

During this meeting, agents saw Valencia and Garza in the same Ford Focus they previously saw in December 2016.

Once the undercover agent arrived at the gas station, Valencia removed a green and yellow diaper box and handed it over to the undercover agent.

After the meeting, the undercover provided the diaper box to federal agents who confirmed the box contained bundles of U.S. currency totaling $158,030. Once combined with the previous $92,000 seized, the currency totaled $250,020, the complaint stated.

Valencia and Garza, who were subsequently arrested in September 2018 and October 2018 respectively, originally pleaded not guilty to their charges on Oct. 31, 2018, but recently changed their pleas.

Valencia and Garza are expected back before a federal judge for their respective sentencing hearings June 10 and June 12, court notes show.