It seems like a story out of a TV show rather than real life, but officials say former police officer Geovani Hernandez got involving in drug trafficking to get money to run for office. As a constable. Constables in Texas are licensed peace officers who perform functions such as issuing subpoenas, traffic citations, and other civil papers.
In May, he met with an informant to discuss an “illegal business venture.” Hernandez claimed to be friends with a Mexican drug boss, according to a complaint filed in the McAllen U.S. District Court. He said he needed money to run for office as a constable in Hidalgo County.
Previously, Hernandez ran unsuccessfully for a position as a Texas political official. In his former campaign, he portrayed himself as being in opposition to Mexican drug cartels. He promised to fight against drug smuggling when he ran for sheriff in 2012. He lost that election, then tried again in 2014 as a write-in candidate. Again, he lost.
Since the mid-1990s, Hernandez has worked as a law enforcement officer for several south Texas agencies. He served as a jailer in Hidalgo, police chief in La Joya, and a police sergeant in Progreso. He no longer is employed in law enforcement.
In August 2016, federal agents were informed that Hernandez was working with an organization that trafficked drugs, and an informant began contacting Hernandez. In June 2017, the informant asked Hernandez to run record checks for cash amounts of $1,000 and $2,000.
On July 11, the informant asked Hernandez to move items from a warehouse to a nearby town in exchange for $5,000. Hernandez stated that he did not want to know what was being transported and that they should buy new cell phones to discuss details.
On July 15, the deal was brokered after Hernandez provided details. One brick of real cocaine along with ten bricks of false cocaine were loaded in the vehicle. Hernandez asked the informant to enter his vehicle while they listened to a conversation on the speaker mode of the informant’s phone. Hernandez said they would be patrolling the streets. After the delivery was made, the informant paid Hernandez $5,000, according to federal agents.
Due to his actions, Hernandez will likely be facing drug trafficking charges. When he was asked to move items from the warehouse to another location in exchange for money, that’s when the charges applied. Even though he didn’t want to know what was being transported, they can still apply.
Since the drug in question was cocaine, the penalties may be steep for Hernandez and he will need the assistance of an experienced Texas drug crimes attorney.
The Charges and Consequences Associated with a Texas Drug Trafficking Offense
Drug trafficking is a crime under the Texas Controlled Substances Act. If a person is proven to knowingly deliver an illicit or controlled substance included in the four groups classified by the act, they may be convicted on charges of drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking charges refer to the illegal distribution or sale of a controlled substance. The charges do not necessarily apply to moving drugs across state lines. They have more to do with the quantity and type of drug involved in transactions.
A conviction on drug trafficking has a range of punitive sentences, but it is always considered a felony. The length and severity of the sentence depends on the amount and kind of drug being distributed or delivered. The smaller the amount of a drug in a lower-classified group, the lighter the sentence (state felony). The larger amount of a drug in a higher-classified group, the harsher the sentence (first degree felony).
For the lightest sentence of a state felony, the punishments include a fine of up to $10,000 and/or 180 days to two years in state jail. For the heaviest sentence of a first degree felony, the punishments include a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of 15 to 99 years in prison or a life sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Ways to Defend Yourself against Charges of Drug Trafficking in Texas
As you can see, in Texas a drug trafficking conviction comes with steep consequences unless you are able to broker a favorable plea deal with the prosecution. Alternatively, skilled criminal attorneys are sometimes able to get charges dropped or dismissed if proper procedures were not followed or your rights were violated.
A few defenses that may be used include:
- Lack of intent
- Mistake of fact—the substance was assumed to be something other than the drug
- Substance not intended for human use
If you are facing charges of drug trafficking or any other drug-related offense, you need the expertise of a legal team with years of experience in drug crime cases. Schedule a free initial consultation today to review your case and discuss your options.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.