FBI agents arrested a San Juan policeman Thursday on drug trafficking charges.
Agents arrested San Juan police Officer Salvador Hernandez after three bundles of cocaine went missing during a drug bust, according to the federal criminal complaint against him.
At about 6:50 a.m. on Aug. 27, the San Juan Police Department responded to a car crash near the intersection of Moore Road and South Stewart Road. Officers found a Ford Expedition abandoned.
When they searched the Expedition, officers found two bags stuffed with bundles of cocaine, according to the criminal complaint. Officers placed the bags in Hernandez’s patrol unit for safekeeping.
Hernandez arrived at the San Juan Police Department about 90 minutes later, according to the criminal complaint. Officers counted 37 bundles of cocaine and secured them at the department.
Federal agents, though, found out that officers had actually seized 40 bundles of cocaine — and three went missing, according to the criminal complaint.
“Agents obtained video footage showing that during the time HERNANDEZ was in possession of the bundles, and prior to him delivering the bundles to the police station, he and another officer touched and handled the bundles,” according to the criminal complaint. “Additionally, HERNANDEZ and the other officer discussed what they believed was in the bundles and that the bundles had not been counted by anyone.”
Hernandez is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos ordered Hernandez held until a hearing on Monday. His attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.
Asked about the arrest, San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez released a statement:
The San Juan Police Department was recently made aware of the arrest of Police Officer Salvador Hernandez, by federal law enforcement authorities.
Officer Hernandez is a duly certified police officer under Texas law, and commissioned by the City of San Juan to serve as a police officer. As a San Juan police officer, Officer Hernandez is covered by civil service law processes and procedures. Currently, the officer is on administrative leave per San Juan PD and civil service procedures pending the criminal investigation. Officer Hernandez will be placed on suspension without pay due to his arrest.
The other officer referenced in the criminal complaint is San Juan police Officer Richard L. Castillo.
FBI agents arrested Castillo last month. He’s charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
Castillo and Hernandez worked together at the Elsa Police Department before taking jobs in San Juan, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records.
After briefly serving as a reserve officer, Hernandez joined the Elsa Police Department in March 2013.
“He was a good officer, I didn’t have any problems with him at all,” said Elsa police Chief Primitivo Rodriguez.
Castillo served as a reserve officer from March to July 2014, when Hernandez was a full-time officer, according to Commission on Law Enforcement records. Rodriguez said he didn’t know whether or not they crossed paths.
“They might have,” Rodriguez said. “It’s possible that they could have got together.”
Castillo stopped working for the Elsa Police Department in July 2014 and took a job with the San Juan Police Department. Hernandez followed three months later.
“He just resigned and said he was moving on to greener pastures,” Rodriguez said about Hernandez. “They pay a lot more over there than we do.”