RGC man pleads guilty in bulk cash smuggling case

A Rio Grande City man accused of laundering drug money pleaded guilty to the charge against him, records show.

On Thursday, Jaime Javier Garza pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling related to his May arrest in Starr County, records show.

On May 4, U.S. Border Patrol agents working in the La Casita area of Starr County, an area known for northbound drug movement, and southbound bulk cash smuggling, observed a jeep and a pickup truck, parked on the Mexican side near a boat ramp, the complaint stated.

“USBP Agents observed several male subjects exit the white Ford F-150. The male subjects inflated a raft and put on life jackets. A USBP Agent observed three subjects get in the raft and the subjects travel across the river towards the United States,” the document stated.

Moments later, after the three people had crossed onto the U.S. side, agents observed a green in color GMC Sierra traveling south on Mexican House Road, and then toward the Los Puertos boat ramp.

“A USBP Agent observed a single, slender, male subject operating the GMC Sierra as it passed his position. The driver, later identified as (Garza), opened his window and threw a large plastic bag out of the window towards the subjects who were at the boat ramp,” the complaint against Garza stated.

The 40-year-old man fled the area, and the bag was subsequently seized by agents.

“A quick visual search of the plastic bag revealed that it contained a bulk quantity of U.S. currency that was wrapped in plastic, along with a plastic pill bottle containing a white powdery substance,” the court document stated.

A short while later, agents tracked Garza down about a mile north of the boat ramp, the document stated.

After he was arrested, Garza was interviewed by authorities where he made statements about his whereabouts.

Garza told agents that earlier that day a man came to his home asking to be driven to the La Casita area in Starr County.

He told agents he drove the man to the boat ramp, and then after they left the area, he said the man left, but did not know where.

“Garza stated he did not know where (the man) went,” the complaint stated. “However, prior to Garza’s arrest, extensive surveillance was conducted by USBP Agents which indicated Garza was the sole occupant of the GMC and observed Garza throw the package out of the driver’s side window of the vehicle,” the complaint stated.

The following day, agents counted the bulk cash package, and recorded $221,620.

Sentencing for Garza is set for Dec. 16, records show.