Ex-bailiff accused in drug conspiracy case gets 5 years in prison

Former Hidalgo County Court-at-Law No. 6 bailiff Oscar De La Cruz, center, walks with his attorney Santos Maldonado, left, and his wife Areli Garza De La Cruz while leaving the federal courthouse Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in McAllen. (Nathan Lambrecht | The Monitor)

A former Hidalgo County bailiff was handed a 60-month prison sentence in connection with a drug conspiracy case involving a drug trafficking organization, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Oscar De La Cruz to five years in federal prison and a supervised release term of three years upon completion of that prison sentence.

De La Cruz entered a plea agreement with government prosecutors in January of this year that allowed him to avoid a federal jury trial.

In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges at the time of his sentencing.

De La Cruz, who was facing several federal charges including drug conspiracy, drug importation and federal forgery charges, was originally indicted in early May 2018 on drug conspiracy charges. He was included in a superseding indictment involving multiple defendants less than a month later and charged with forgery as well.

In a dramatic scene the evening of De La Cruz’s arrest on May 4, 2018, dozens of federal agents descended on the county courthouse to seize evidence from Hidalgo County Court-at-Law Judge Albert Garcia’s courtroom, where De La Cruz had served as a bailiff for at least two years.

The 53-year-old Pharr native was accused of playing a role in the movement of cocaine in conjunction with an unnamed drug trafficking organization between Jan. 14, 2016, to about Feb. 5, 2018, court documents show.

Government prosecutors alleged that De La Cruz helped associates working with an unknown drug trafficking organization get their hands on falsified court documents to help facilitate the theft and reselling of cocaine — a common practice by those attempting to deceive the main supply source back in Mexico.

By producing an official court or police document, those stealing the illicit drugs can legitimize their loss of the product to the supply source, avoiding suspicion and severe punishment at the hands of the organization.

Prosecutors allege that while working along with drug trafficking associates, De La Cruz even forged the signature of a federal judge, former U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos who worked in the federal courthouse in McAllen.

The ex-bailiff was one of 20 defendants, a former law enforcement officer among them, named in a superseding indictment, court records show.

That filing, which came less than a week after his initial arrest, alleged that Juan Fernando Mata, a former Donna ISD 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.

Montemayor, of Mission, and Macrin Cerda, a Mexican national, were part of a group called “Los Mikis,” who were arrested in October 2017 in connection with a series of burglaries, intent to commit other felonies, and engaging in organized criminal activity, San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said at the time of their arrests.

Montemayor, Cerda, Mata and Tovar-Guillén, await sentencing in late January in connection with the conspiracy case, court records show.

Jorge Antonio Calvo-Ayala, 25, of Pharr pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. Alvarez sentenced him in May 2018 to 95 months in prison, court records show.

In addition to Calvo-Ayala’s conviction, Danny Cano, 30, Marylyn Gonzalez, 39, and Arturo “Petu” (or “Cholo”) Vargas, 35, all of Mission, were sentenced in August and October 2018, respectively, in connection with the conspiracy.

Additional defendants connected to the “Los Mikis” case who pleaded guilty and are also pending sentencing.

lzazueta@themonitor.com