Starr County investigators raid Mission law firm

Immigration law office seen Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The Starr County Special Crimes Unit is in the midst of an investigation into an immigration law firm located in Mission, which stems from the arrest of a Rio Grande City-based notary.

Juana Maria Rodriguez was arrested in January for allegedly providing fraudulent immigration services, including notary services, according to Brenda Lee, law enforcement liaison for the Starr County Attorney’s Office.

Rodriguez’s notary license expired in August 2017, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s website. Lee said Rodriguez would also say she worked for different attorneys, though at least one said he did not know her.

The Mission law firm, which was the subject of a sweep by the SCU on Tuesday, is owned by Mexus Law Firm, according to Hidalgo County property records. The listed mailing address identifies the office as Lopez, Perez & Garcia Attorneys at Law. The location of the law firm is also listed as the address for attorney Florencio “Lencho” Lopez with the State Bar of Texas.

The law firm, however, physically displays the names of Florencio Lopez, Sergio R. Perez and Jose A. Gracia on its edifice. Lopez is identified on the building as an attorney, Perez as a Mexican lawyer and legal assistant in the U.S., and Gracia as a notary public and paralegal.

It remains unclear how Lopez or the law firm are tied to Rodriguez’s arrest earlier this year, as additional details were not released as of press time.

Rodriguez allegedly defrauded about 20 people into paying for immigration services but failing to make any progress on their cases.

“She was promising that she was going to get them their documents required to be here in the United States legally,” Lee said, adding that she charged thousands of dollars. “Once she would get the money, she wouldn’t answer their phone calls; they would go and visit her at the office and they couldn’t get ahold of her.”