The father of a Rio Grande City man acquitted of murder was the subject of a drug trafficking investigation and now part of a federal lawsuit in which the government is attempting to seize money found on his property, alleging it was used for drug trafficking purposes.
On about Aug. 20, federal agents executed a search warrant at Jose Luis Garcia’s residence in Rio Grande City, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday.
Garcia is the father of Jose Luis Garcia Jr., the man who in November was acquitted in the murder of Rio Grande City teen Chayse Olivarez.
During the search, agents asked Garcia if there was anything illegal on the property, to which he replied that there was a large amount of money in a backyard safe.
Garcia provided the passcode and upon opening it, agents found multiple weapons and vacuum-sealed bundles of money in a green Ricardo duffle bag.
The money totaled $210,100.
The complaint alleges that money was used or going to be used in exchange for drugs.
In the federal complaint, the government elaborated on how the money was found as being vacuum-sealed in plastic wrapping and wrapped with dryer sheets, currency bands and rubber bands.
One of the bundles had “30” written on it while another bundle had “60” written on it.
“The way the $210,100.00 was wrapped is consistent with the way in which narcotics proceeds are commonly wrapped and subsequently transported in order to avoid law enforcement detection,” the complaint stated.
Federal agents also found bundles of money totaling $48,735 on the safe shelves, in an ammunition can, in an Adidas bag, and in the pocket on the safe door.
They also searched Garcia’s truck which was also at the property.
“Within the truck, they found a written message warning about potential reprisals from the CDG. CDG is the Spanish abbreviation for the Cartel Del Golfo, known as the Gulf Cartel in English, a Mexican drug trafficking organization operating in northern Tamaulipas, Mexico and south Texas, among other places,” the complaint stated.
In a second safe on the property, agents seized a money counter, a bag containing various denomination currency bands, and a portable Hytera digital radio.
The government claims that agents have seized multiple digital radios during a drug trafficking investigation into Garcia and his associates.
“Drug and illegal alien smugglers utilize portable radios to communicate with each other when committing crimes,” the complaint stated. “Additionally, drug traffickers frequently utilize portable radios near border areas because the radios work in many areas where cell phones do not and are a quick and easy way to communicate between two or more individuals.”
Agents also found a radio frequency signal jammer in the kitchen of the property.
Garcia’s son, Jose Luis Garcia Jr. — currently 19 years old — was arrested in 2017 in Olivarez’s death. Olivarez’s remains were found burned and dismembered in a Roma ranch. During the ensuing trial, a Texas Ranger testified that the defendant’s father, Jose Luis Garcia, and the victim’s father, Casimiro Olivarez Sr., are rival drug traffickers in Starr County.
When the agents interviewed Garcia, he claimed the $210,100 came from the sale of land in Mexico, though he could not provide documentation or proof of that sale.
He also did not know the name of the friend who sold the property for him, according to the complaint, and said that he believed the unknown Mexican buyer likely used narcotics proceeds to purchase the land.
“Additionally, during the interview with Garcia, he stated that his land sale windfall was kept in cash because he was told by his accountant that it is ‘tax free,’” the complaint stated. “In fact, as a United States Citizen, capital gains on foreign land sales would be taxable.”
The government filed the complaint claiming the money was subject to forfeiture “as property traceable to proceeds of drug trafficking.”