New bond hearing sought for RGC man in destruction case

The federal courthouse at Bentsen Tower, located on Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen, is seen in this August 2018 file photo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — Attorneys for the alleged leader of a Rio Grande City drug trafficking organization filed a motion to have a new bond hearing for their client, records show.

In an 11-page court filing submitted Monday, attorneys for Jose Luis Garcia, a Rio Grande City businessman, requested to have Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker’s April 6 ruling thrown out, arguing it was improper, as well as a new bond hearing be set immediately, documents show.

The request to have Hacker’s ruling revoked comes three weeks after the magistrate judge ruled to deny the 42-year-old self-employed Rio Grande City man a bond.

Hacker ruled against a bond for Garcia after the government argued he had a history of violence and was a flight risk, and thus could not be assured to appear for all hearings prior to the subsequent jury trial.

But attorneys for Garcia claim Hacker relied heavily on the government’s claim that Garcia was the leader of a drug trafficking organization and had direct ties to Mexico in reaching his conclusion that Garcia would remain in custody.

They argue the charges against Garcia are related to the destruction of federal property that allegedly took place in August 2019. But the government presented evidence to the court showing Garcia is allegedly also the head of an organization determined to get retribution on federal agents looking into their illegal activities.

In a further explanation, the government alleged in its motion that in January 2019, Garcia allegedly, after federal agents seized more than 300 kilograms of cocaine tied to his organization, sent text messages that indicated he was working on putting together a list to take to Mexico to get permission to turn agents into “soup,” the document stated.

“In other words, (Garcia) was looking to kill these (agents) and dispose of their bodies in acid,” the court record shows. “The government stated that (Garcia) was trying to get the name of a particular (U.S.) Border Patrol agent and had the names of other Border Patrol agents, who (Garcia) believed was (sic) interfering with the drug trafficking organization.”

Text messages purportedly from Garcia also indicated he allegedly made threats against Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar, who was pursuing charges against Garcia’s son. The 42-year-old Rio Grande City man is the father of Jose Luis Garcia Jr., who was recently acquitted of the murder of Chayse Olivarez.

“Finally, there were text messages that indicated (Garcia) was asking others if they would flee to Mexico with him,” the document stated.

The current complaint against Garcia alleges that in August 2019, Garcia “knowingly and corruptly altered, destroyed, mutilated, or concealed a record, document, or other object, or attempted to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.”

According to the complaint, this allegedly occurred when he ordered a member of his drug trafficking organization to destroy pole cameras situated around properties tied to his organization.

Garcia’s attorneys argue that Hacker made the ruling to deny bond on the arguments made about his ties to organized drug trafficking, but have failed to formally charge him with any drug-related offenses.

Despite these arguments from the government of Garcia’s perceived danger to the community, they claim Garcia does not have a criminal history; and was last arrested in the late 90s for possession of a firearm when he was in his early 20s, the document stated.

“The Court concluded that the ‘lengthy period of incarceration if convicted’ was an additional reason to rule in favor of detention. The charge in the complaint does not carry a ‘lengthy period of incarceration,’” the document stated. “However, the Court reached that conclusion when the government argued that Mr. Garcia was a leader of drug trafficking organization (sic). The government focused on arguing that Mr. Garcia may face future drug charges, but provided no time frame for a future indictment and they provided no credible proof that Mr. Garcia is linked to an alleged drug organization.”

Attorneys representing Garcia argue that the court essentially denied bond for Garcia not for the charges he’s currently facing, the destruction of federal property as outlined in the complaint, but for “charges the government is hedging on levying against Mr. Garcia,” the court record shows.

“Mr. Garcia argues that the government is attempting to raise the suspicion that Mr. Garcia is a drug trafficker with bits and pieces of information gathered, yet do not have enough to file a criminal complaint or indict Mr. Garcia on drug charges, the filing reads in part.

Remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on April 2, Garcia remains in custody.

A response from the government, or the court has yet to be filed, records show.