Bond set at $100,000 for former La Joya police chief in drug trafficking case

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A judge set bond at $100,000 on Friday for former La Joya police Chief Geovani Hernandez, who’s accused of accepting cash to provide security for drug shipments. (CBS 4 News)

February 07 2021 06:00 pm

A judge set bond at $100,000 on Friday for former La Joya police Chief Geovani Hernandez, who’s accused of accepting cash to provide security for drug shipments.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos set bond at $100,000 — with a 10 percent cash deposit required — for Geovani V. Hernandez, 43, of Weslaco during a Friday morning hearing.

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrested Hernandez on Aug. 12.

Investigators accused Hernandez of accepting bribes from drug traffickers to guard cocaine shipments and swapping cash for information, according to the federal criminal complaint against him. Hernandez also claimed to know Juan Manuel “El Toro” Loza-Salinas, the former Gulf Cartel plaza boss for Reynosa.

Perhaps best known as the former La Joya police chief, Hernandez mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for Hidalgo County sheriff.

Hernandez took a reserve position with the Progreso Police Department on Feb. 7 and became a full-time employee on May 1, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas:

From March through July 2017, a confidential source allegedly met with Hernandez seeking assistance for a drug trafficking organization. The criminal complaint alleges the meetings culminated in Hernandez agreeing to provide protection for a vehicle he believed contained a controlled substance through the Progreso area. In return for his assistance, Hernandez allegedly received approximately $5,000.

Several new details emerged Friday during the federal detention hearing:

* A Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that during an initial meeting between Hernandez and the informant, the government had trouble recording the conversation because Hernandez started playing narcocorridos on a sound system.

* After providing security for the first drug shipment, Hernandez handed the federal informant his Progreso Police Department badge — and told the informant to show the badge to the boss, an apparent attempt to show Hernandez was trustworthy.

* Hernandez met the federal informant at the Progreso Police Department before and after providing security for the second drug shipment.

* A Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that a recording device malfunctioned during a June 2 meeting with Hernandez. Agents haven’t been able to review the recording.

* A Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that Hernandez reportedly told a drug trafficker about a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation.

* When agents arrested Hernandez, they found a “bug detector” designed to reveal hidden recording devices and prevent electronic surveillance.

After hearing testimony from the Homeland Security Investigations agent, the federal prosecutor asked the judge to keep Hernandez in custody, citing his connections in Mexico and the seriousness of the charges against him.

Hernandez’s attorney told the judge his client had already arranged a temporary job and had longstanding ties to the community.

The judge set bond at $100,000, but ordered Hernandez to surrender his passport, allow GPS monitoring and set a daily curfew.

Check back for updates.

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