Former RGC cop pleads guilty to federal drug charges

April 7, 2017 GMT

Ramon De La Cruz, Jr., the former investigator with the Rio Grande City Police Department, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute more than 2,000 lbs. of marijuana during a re-arraignment hearing on Tuesday, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey out of Victoria Division issued a $100,000 bond and set conditions for his release.

Among them were that De La Cruz must not possess any weapons, submit to drug testing, not consume alcohol, not travel outside the McAllen division except for court appearances, not seek employment in law enforcement, and is restricted to his home at all times except for work, school, religious services, health treatment, attorney visits or court appearances.

De La Cruz was arrested in September while still an officer of the Rio Grande City Police Department.

In the original complaint, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said De La Cruz conspired with drug traffickers in Rio Grande City by staging drug seizures and providing official police information and equipment such as radios that had functioning active police frequencies, in order to evade law enforcement.

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The drug trafficking organization, identified as the Beltran DTO in the affidavit and which allegedly has ties to the Gulf Cartel in Mexico, were able to “rip” or steal marijuana they were tasked with transporting by faking drug busts.

Steve Greenwell, the Homeland Security investigator, based his allegations on information gathered from confidential sources that indicated that De La Cruz, who was a deputy at the sheriff’s office at the time, provided documents to the Beltran DTO as proof of drug seizures.

During a detention hearing in October, the Homeland Security investigator testified that throughout the investigation, which spanned January 2009 through December 2013, investigators learned Beltran disposed of weapons involved in the kidnapping and murder of individuals in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Those persons that were involved in that conduct took weapons to the Beltran Ranch and asked that the Beltrans hide those weapons, three rifles, in particular, on the ranch,” the agent testified, according to the transcript of that hearing.

He stated the items included three rifles, tactical vests and M4 magazines fully loaded with .223 rounds.

The transcript reads: “Once the Beltrans learned that the weapons, what they had been used in, shortly after arrival of the weapons, it’s been reported that they called the Defendant, Ramon De La Cruz, to dispose of the weapons essentially, and six/seven hours later, the Defendant De La Cruz came to the ranch, took the weapons, questions unasked, took the weapons and disposed of them, provided them to a gun store or something of that nature in the Rio Grande City area.”

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The agent testified that he believed De La Cruz was in contact with Ramiro Beltran Sr., leader of the Beltran Organization who was indicted in January 2016 but remains a fugitive of justice.

He said he believed Beltran was residing in Mexico and the two were keeping in contact based on cell phone activity between De La Cruz and Beltran’s daughter, Jacqueline Beltran.

“When you look at travel data of Jacqueline Beltran, she is in Mexico at those very times, in April of 2016, specifically April 1st and 2nd of 2016, as well as May of 2016,” Greenwell said.

“It’s my belief that the Defendant is calling Jacqueline Beltran as either a go-between to pass information or more accurately, I believe, essentially what’s happening is she is passing her phone to her dad so that the fugitive can talk to the Defendant.”

Greenwell also testified that De La Cruz was also being investigated by Homeland Security in reference to his involvement in a cocaine conspiracy.

A sentencing hearing is set for July 6.

bereniceg@themonitor.com