FBI agent: Melted cellphones in former cop’s home

McALLEN — When federal agents raided a former Mission police officer’s home last July they discovered, among other items, a large cooking pot in the backyard that was still smoldering when they found it, which contained multiple burned cellphones and government documents.

FBI Agent Scott Atwood, who was assigned to the take photos of former Mission officer Hector “Jojo” Mendez’s home in San Juan during that search, testified they also retrieved several identification cards, a Mexican passport, firearms, memory cards and multiple old police reports.

Atwood was assigned to the FBI’s public corruption task force and was at Mendez’s home as part of the investigation into seized cocaine in July of 2012.

During the fifth day of testimony in Mendez’s trial the government finally introduced several pieces of evidence that implicated at the very least that Mendez was attempting to get rid of items that may incriminate him somehow.

Also called to testify was DEA group supervisor Richard Clough, who was Mendez’s supervisor after former group supervisor Richard Champion moved to the Washington, D.C., office.

Clough testified about the months leading up to and the actual arrest of Mendez last summer.

Specifically, Clough testified about an observation he made on Feb. 12, 2015, inside the U.S. Attorney’s office lobby, when Reynol Chapa-Garcia and Mendez crossed paths.

“He was shocked to see Mr. Chapa,” Clough said. “He stared at him as he and (Roque) Vela left the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

Chapa, who was an informant for the government but also a confidential source of Mendez’s, met with federal agents and government prosecutors in connection with the July 28, 2012, seizure, of which Chapa was involved.

On July 28, 2012, Mission police K-9 officer Charles Lopez seized 15 kilos of cocaine from the trunk of a 1998 Ford Taurus in the parking lot of a Mission bakery.

Chapa, who testified last week that he changed his story of the events of that week multiple times, said the cocaine provided for that seizure had been dropped off at his home three days earlier. Mendez, who allegedly conspired with Chapa to steal the cocaine, picked up the drugs from Chapa’s home, cut it, and then staged the seizure with Officer Lopez.