Man accused of assaulting officer at Starr County jail

A man previously convicted of attempting to distribute marijuana was charged this week with assaulting a federal officer while detained at the Starr County jail.

Jose Humberto Ordonez, 24, made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker on allegations he assaulted a federal officer on Tuesday, the day before his scheduled sentencing on a drug trafficking charge.

The government claims Ordonez, a federal detainee at the Starr County Detention Center in Rio Grande City, attacked a sergeant by “repeatedly striking him in the face,” according to the criminal complaint.

At around 2:50 p.m. Tuesday, an officer allegedly saw through a security camera that Ordonez was attempting to tamper with a security camera covering in his cell.

The sergeant and other officers then approached Ordonez’s cell and they allegedly saw he was bleeding from a self-inflicted wound.

“Ordonez did not comply with the officers commands to stop and face the wall when Sergeant H. Lopez and other officers entered the cell to stop him from further injuring himself,” the complaint stated. “Ordonez physically resisted Sergeant H. Lopez and began striking him in the face/nose area repeatedly with a closed fisted right hand.”

The officers claim they only used reasonable force necessary to restrain Ordonez.

As a result of the assault, the sergeant began bleeding from his nose, according to the complaint, and was taken to Starr County Memorial Hospital for medical attention where it was determined he sustained a nasal fracture.

Ordonez, from Honduras, pleaded guilty in August 2019 of possession with intent to distribute approximately 211 kilograms of marijuana.

The drug charges stemmed from an incident in February 2019 when he, along with a group of individuals, was seen traveling north from the Rio Grande with bundles, according to the criminal complaint.

After he was detained by Border Patrol, Ordonez agreed to speak with agents without the presence of an attorney and said he knowingly crossed marijuana into the United States out of fear for his life.

He claimed an unknown man in Mexico approached him, held him at gun point, and threatened to kill him if he did not agree to cross marijuana into the U.S.

Ordonez’s sentencing was scheduled for April 22 but, due to the new charge against him, it was postponed. A new sentencing date has not been set.

He faces 40 years in federal prison for the drug charge, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

If convicted of the assault charge, he faces an additional 20 years and a possible fine of up to $250,000.