Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro

799 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro covers immigration and federal courts for The Monitor. He can be reached at lzazueta@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4452.

RGC man pleads guilty in marijuana case 

A Rio Grande City man will forgo a jury trial after he pleaded guilty last week to trying to smuggle more than 550 pounds of marijuana, records show.  Jesus Carlos Villarreal Jr. pleaded true to drug smuggling charges Wednesday related to his arrest last year in Starr County after agents found him with bundles of marijuana.  Villarreal was arrested in December after he told U.S. Border Patrol agents he agreed to smuggle several kilos of marijuana for an unknown cash payment because he desperately needed money for Christmas.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen man faces federal charge in rifle straw purchase

A man here faces federal straw purchase charges after prosecutors allege he lied when he said he was the intended owner of a 50-caliber rifle he purchased in the spring of 2018, records show. John Michael Herston was scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez Thursday related to his indictment on one count of lying on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives firearm 4473 form, records show. According to the unsealed indictment, Herston, 40, allegedly made a false statement on the aforementioned ATF form on April 5, 2018, at a local licensed firearm dealer in Edinburg when he purchased a .50 caliber Bushmaster rifle. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Federal courthouse closed to the public until further notice

The federal courthouse in McAllen will be closed to the public, according to an order signed Friday by U.S. District Judges Ricardo H. Hinojosa, Randy Crane and Micaela Alvarez. Beginning April 6, “The United States Courthouse in McAllen, Texas (Bentsen Tower) will be closed to the public,” the order states. “ In an effort to protect the health and safety of the public, staff, and judicial officers from exposure to or spread” of the COVID-19 virus, the order states the courthouse will be closed to the public until further notice. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Trial for RGC man to commence next week

The trial for a Rio Grande City man accused of attempting to smuggle more than 550 pounds of marijuana will begin next week, records show.  After he was arrested, Jesus Carlos Villarreal Jr. told U.S. Border Patrol agents he agreed to smuggle several kilos of marijuana for an unknown cash payment because he desperately needed money for Christmas.  Villarreal’s trial in connection with that smuggling attempt was set to begin Thursday before a motion allowed it to be delayed until April 7, records show. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

RGC man faces federal charges tied to destroyed surveillance cameras

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. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Edinburg woman implicates herself in drug smuggling scheme

A woman who filed a police report inadvertently implicated herself in a drug smuggling conspiracy, records show.  Emily Julieta Gonzalez faces a federal drug smuggling charge related to a March 18 carjacking in Hidalgo. She told police two men carjacked her, and the following day, Hidalgo police officers found 10.5 kilograms of cocaine concealed within her vehicle.  Police arrested Gonzalez March 19, and she made her initial federal court appearance Monday on a charge of possession of a controlled substance. She was back in court Wednesday for her detention hearing, court notes show.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Border Patrol agents expelling unauthorized immigrants to reduce virus risk

In an effort to minimize risks and exposure to U.S. Border Patrol agents and detainees in detention facilities, agents are immediately expelling people apprehended between ports of entry. During a call with media members, U.S. Border Patrol officials said this change in operations is meant to reduce the exposure its agents and those held in detention centers have to COVID-19. Officials said agents encountering people attempting to enter the country illegally, between ports of entry, will process them at a mobile processing unit out in the field, and immediately expel them from the country through the nearest port of entry. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Ex-felon found with assault rifle, pistol, pleads guilty

An investigation into human smuggling led federal agents to a convicted felon in possession of multiple firearms and nearly 200 rounds of ammunition. On Monday, that man, Orlando Garza-Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling goods related to his arrest last October, records show. In early October, U.S. Border Patrol agents, during the course of an investigation into potential human smuggling, were conducting surveillance on Garza at his residence in Roma. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Federal agents arrest man running from drug ‘load’ car

McALLEN — A Mexican national faces federal drug charges after he was found with more than 40 kilos of cocaine last week, records show. Hugo...

Man in cigarette scheme has trial set for May

A trial date has been set for a Mexican national accused of playing a role in an illegal cigarette distribution operation. The court granted a motion for a continuance Thursday for Luis Enrique Vazquez-De La Cruz and set a final pretrial for May 4, and the jury selection for the following day.  Along with Juan Carlos Teran Areaga, 37, of Mexico and Jose Francisco Guerra, 80, of Mission, Vazquez is accused of allegedly planning to smuggle nearly 17,000 cigarettes from the U.S. into Mexico. The men face federal smuggling goods charges in connection with a Jan. 15 incident in which nearly 17,000 cigarettes were discovered inside a trailer, records show. Read the full story at themonitor.com.