District suspends teacher facing drug charges

McALLEN — A middle school Spanish teacher accused of moonlighting as an associate for a drug cartel will continue to receive a paycheck from his employer, at least for now.

McAllen school district officials suspended Jorge Ignacio Cavazos on Feb. 1, days after he was arrested by federal agents in connection with federal drug charges, according to public records acquired by The Monitor.

In a letter dated Feb. 1 from the school district’s human resources director, the Abraham Lincoln Middle School teacher was informed that he would be suspended with pay, “pending the outcome of an administrative investigation.”

“You are directed not to report to work or any other district property until further notice,” the letter states.

Cavazos, who has been licensed as an educator in Texas for nearly 20 years, dating back to June 1998, told Homeland Security Investigations agents he “had been assisting” a drug cartel based in Reynosa by unloading carloads of narcotics that were imported from Mexico into the United States since 2016, the complaint states.

The 50-year-old McAllen man, who was hired to teach Spanish at Lincoln on Aug. 3, 2015, told federal agents he had been facilitating the movement of drugs for the cartel on a weekly basis since 2016, according to the complaint.

On July 20, 2017, a Mexican national attempted to enter the U.S. with about 11 kilos of cocaine hidden within an altered compartment inside a black Nissan Altima, the court record shows.

Four months later, HSI agents received additional information from an informant who was cooperating with them about the seizure of the 11 kilos.

“The (informant) stated that the aforementioned vehicle was utilized on several occasions to transport narcotics into the U.S. at the direction of a drug trafficking organization operating in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico,” the complaint states. “The (drug trafficking organization) requested that after the vehicle successfully entered the U.S. it needed to be turned over a male subject in the U.S.”

The informant identified Cavazos as the recipient of the drugs from the cartel and recalled one instance on July 19, 2017, when Cavazos traveled to a McAllen Walmart to pick up the black Nissan Altima, which the informant claimed was loaded with drugs, the complaint states.

When the school district announced Cavazos’ suspension two days after his arrest, they stated the Texas Education Agency was notified and reassured the community that the “safety of our students and staff remains our top priority. We are committed to maintaining a school environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.”

As for Cavazos, court records show that on Feb. 2, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby granted him a $75,000 bond with a $5,000 cash deposit.