RGC man faces federal charges tied to destroyed surveillance cameras

McALLEN — A Rio Grande City man faces federal destruction of property charges after government prosecutors allege he ordered others to destroy surveillance cameras, records show.

Jose Luis Garcia made his initial appearance in federal court Monday related to allegations he was involved in the destruction of surveillance cameras in Rio Grande City.

The criminal complaint against Garcia alleges that, last August, he “knowingly and corruptly altered, destroyed, mutilated, or concealed a record, document, or other object, or attempted to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.” According to the complaint, this allegedly occurred when he ordered a member of his drug trafficking organization to destroy pole cameras.

The arrest came about after the U.S. Border Patrol, along with other law enforcement agencies, served a search warrant at two residences in Rio Grande City that allegedly were used by members of the Garcia drug trafficking organization — the first at 25 Midway Road, and the other at 39 Alegria Circle, records show.

On that day, Aug. 30, law enforcement encountered Rene and Daniel Sepulveda, who are brothers identified as members of the Garcia drug trafficking organization, at the Midway address.

During the search, agents discovered more than $83,000 in bulk cash, 15 firearms, and two of Daniel Sepulveda’s cell phones.

“Upon seizing his phones, Daniel Sepulveda confronted a (DEA agent). Speaking in an aggressive tone, Daniel Sepulveda stated that he wanted DEA to take down the DEA’s cameras located on a telephone pole across the street from Daniel Sepulveda’s house and on a telephone pole located at the intersection of Midway Road and Expressway 83,” the complaint stated.

The DEA agent told Daniel Sepulveda that “they were not DEA’s cameras,” but Daniel responded stating he knew they were because he had asked someone at the electric company.

“At that time, Rene Sepulveda stated it was against (his) and Daniel Sepulveda’s constitutional rights to be watched by the government. (The DEA agent) relayed to other agents in the proximity that he observed Daniel Sepulveda was agitated and upset about the search warrant conducted at (his) residence and law enforcement cameras on Midway Road,” the document stated.

At the other residence, 39 Alegria Circle, agents encountered Garcia, identified by agents as the head of the Garcia drug trafficking organization, and Daniela Ruiz.

“During a search of the master bedroom, agents observed a green colored rifle case that contained a black colored Daniel Defense AR-15 style rifle with a scope,” the criminal complaint stated. “Agents observed that the rifle case was leaning against the bedroom bed and was situated on top of two of the bed’s pillows.”

During the search of Garcia’s residence, agents discovered a radio frequency jammer, firearms, four handguns, and four rifles, and several bags full of bulk cash scattered around the residence, totaling $275,205, the document stated.

Agents also found handwritten notes around the property, and Garcia’s pickup truck.

At one point, Garcia made a statement to the Border Patrol agent in charge at the scene, purportedly admitting to his business.

“You know what I do, and I know what you do. I am tired,” Garcia told the agent according to the complaint filed against him.

The following day, Aug. 31, 2019, agents checked the pole cameras outside of Sepulveda’s residence, and discovered one bullet hole in each camera, the document stated.

Agents executed post warrant analysis on both Garcia’s and Daniel Sepulveda’s cellphones and found communication between Garcia and Daniel Sepulveda in which they discussed the destruction of the pole cameras.

“… (Garcia) ordered Daniel Sepulveda to destroy Border Patrol cameras located in the Midway Road area in Rio Grande City, Texas. Both Daniel Sepulveda and (Garcia) verbalize their frustration with Border Patrol activities in the area and attribute these activities to the pole cameras in the area,” the document read. “(Garcia) tell Daniel Sepulveda that it has gone too far and orders Daniel Sepulveda to take out the cameras.”

According to the affidavit, the cameras sustained more than $15,000 in damage.

During the hearing Garcia was informed of his rights, and subsequently said he would hire his own counsel.

The 42-year-old Rio Grande City man is the father of Jose Luis Garcia Jr., who was recently acquitted of the murder of Chayse Olivarez.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Garcia April 2, where a magistrate would rule on whether to grant Garcia a bond, something the government opposes, records show.