EDINBURG — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper has been arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child as part of a more than year-long investigation in which more suspects may be arrested, Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission authorities and Texas Rangers working along with multiple agencies, arrested Juan Angel Barrientos in connection with a case involving the sexual assault of minors.
Barrientos, 48, of Edinburg, was arraigned, booked and released on a $60,000 personal recognizance bond Wednesday on three counts of sexual assault of a child related to the Texas Rangers’ investigation.
The DPS trooper is accused of several instances of sexual assault of a child in 2001, and twice in 2002, according to the two-page unsealed indictment against him.
The Monitor does not identify victims of sexual abuse, and the indictment uses a pseudonym for the three named in the indictment.
“(Barrientos), on the first day of December 2001, did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the penetration of the sexual organ of Kenia Garcia, a pseudonym, a child who was then and there younger than 17 years of age,” the record shows.
He’s accused of then sexually assaulting Kenia Garcia on two subsequent occasions — on or about Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, 2002.
Rodriguez on Thursday remained tight-lipped about the investigation, stating he could not comment further beyond the charges against Barrientos, and would only say that the investigation is ongoing and expected to yield more suspects.
A TABC spokesperson declined to comment on the arrest, citing an ongoing investigation, and referred The Monitor to the Texas Rangers.
Another suspect, Rita Martinez Moreno, 61, of Mission, was also charged Wednesday in connection with the case and remains in custody on a 31-count criminal indictment.
Martinez faces a total of 31 counts against her, including one count of trafficking of persons benefits from forced labor, 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault, 14 counts of sexual assault of a child, and one count of delivery of a controlled substance, more than 1 gram but less than 4 grams of cocaine, the indictment read.
The charges against her date back to November 2000 through March 2018, the indictment filed July 25 read.
The indictment also charges that Barrientos allegedly assaulted the victim nine different times beginning in November 2000.
Martinez is accused of sexual assault of a child, and aggravated sexual assault, against Kenia Garcia in the following instances: December 2000, January 2001, June 2001, December 2001, January 2002, June 2002, December 2002 and June 2003.
Martinez on the aforementioned dates, “intentionally and knowingly cause(d) the penetration of the sexual organ of Kenia Garcia, a pseudonym, a child who was then and there younger than 17 years of age,” and “intentionally and knowingly cause the penetration of the sexual organ of Kenia Garcia, a pseudonym, without the consent of Kenia Garcia, and (Martinez) did then and there by acts or words, threaten to cause or place Kenia Garcia in fear that serious bodily injury would be imminently inflicted on Kenia Garcia.”
In addition to Kenia Garcia, Martinez is accused of sexually assaulting at least two more victims, identified under pseudonyms, one of whom was also a minor.
The indictment charges that between August 2005 and May 2006, Martinez allegedly sexually assaulted Imelda Gonzalez, a pseudonym used to avoid identifying the victim, several times.
Martinez is accused of sexual assault of a child, and aggravated sexual assault against Imelda Gonzalez in 10 instances between August and December 2005, and between January and May 2006.
Also, Martinez faced two charges related to her abuse of a woman identified under the pseudonym Lucia Garcia.
In August 2009, Martinez is accused of trafficking Lucia Garcia “with the intent or knowledge that Lucia Garcia will engage in forced labor or services,” and “did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the penetration of the sexual organ of Lucia Garcia,” the indictment read.
During her arraignment, Martinez was denied bond and is currently in custody at the Hidalgo County jail.
Martinez’s attorney, Hector Hernandez Jr., had not yet met with his client and said he would withhold comment at this time.
According to Hidalgo County court records, Barrientos had not listed an attorney as of Thursday afternoon.
Barrientos’ arrest and charges came on the same day another DPS official lost his job in light of sexual assault accusations and charges.
DPS officials fired John Jones, 45, Tuesday after his arrest in connection with allegations he raped a woman at his home on July 20, during a party at Jones’ home.
The chief of DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, Jones was arrested after a joint operation between both the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers. He was booked into the Travis County jail.
Jones was released on a $100,000 bond Thursday.
Both Barrientos and Martinez’s indictments are out of the 139th state District Court.
The cases will be assigned to Judge Israel Ramon, of the 430th state District Court, court records show.
Barrientos and Martinez are expected to be formally arraigned before Ramon on Aug. 28, records show.
If convicted of the first-degree felonies, Barrientos and Martinez could face up to life in prison.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include additional details not available at the time the story was originally published.