Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Feds: Pharr officer assisted Zeta kidnapping ring

Thursday, July 29, 2010 |

Jeremy Roebuck
The Monitor












McALLEN — One name emerged over and over again as authorities tracked a brutal Zeta kidnapping ring across Hidalgo County in 2008:

“Chino”

Throughout the investigation, witnesses ascribed that nickname to a Pharr police officer who allegedly helped the cartel operatives carry out their attacks.

The nephew of a top Zeta lieutenant, the man had also purportedly shielded drug stash houses and guarded cocaine shipments through his city, all while on duty and in uniform, said Alfredo Barrera, an investigator with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“We kept hearing about ‘Chino,’ ‘Chino’,” he testified in a federal courtroom Wednesday. “We just didn’t know who that was.”

Until this year.

Federal prosecutors now allege that former patrolman Jaime Beas operated for years under the nickname, smuggling drugs and diverting attention away from his uncle’s violent business.

Beas has entered “not guilty” pleas to multiple counts of extortion and smuggling drugs and weapons.

But at a bond hearing Wednesday, the government portrayed the six-year veteran of the force as a corrupt law enforcement official who secretly helped others break dozens of laws he had sworn to uphold.

“A police officer is supposed to uphold the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Wells said. “He couldn’t even follow them.”

‘CHINO’

FBI agents arrested Beas earlier this month in a sting operation in which the officer allegedly agreed to sell military-grade weapons to a man posing as a Zeta contact.

But the investigation that brought them to that point started years before, Barrera testified.

Throughout fall 2008, the Zetas carried out at least five abductions of Hidalgo County drug dealers in a bid to expand their influence north of the border. Many of the victims never resurfaced, and some met violent ends like being burned to death in chemical vats, witnesses have testified at trials for some of the kidnappers who have since been arrested.

In all, nine men were eventually charged later that year with playing a role in the plot. But as authorities began to interview those suspects, they uncovered disturbing links between one of the group’s top members and a nephew who supposedly worked as a Pharr police officer, Barrera said.

The officer had helped divert police attention in dozens of cases while the group carried out its work, the witnesses purportedly told investigators. The only problem was that none of them knew his real name.

But the list of crimes attributed to this phantom officer was as vast as it was shocking:

>> He purportedly served as a lookout during the kidnapping of a wheelchair-using Las Milpas man, sitting in his patrol car only feet away and monitoring his police radio.

>> In a separate case, he attempted to pull over another man so the group could abduct him but ended up causing a wreck that led to the intended victim’s escape.

>> He housed top-ranking Zetas in his Las Milpas home as they hid from retribution for their actions south of the border.

>> And all the while, he operated a slew of stash houses in Pharr where he kept his uncle’s drugs. He allegedly paid for one of those homes with $385,000 in cash.

“All the cooperators knew (of this) nephew that was a Pharr police officer,” Barrera said. “Anything his uncle needed, he was the man he would go to.”


LAYING A TRAP

Investigators first began to target Beas, 33, earlier this year, and it didn’t take much coaxing for the officer to prove their suspicions, said Barrera.

Working under the direction of the FBI, an informant approached Beas in April posing as a drug smuggler seeking protection for his loads of cocaine.

The officer allegedly agreed to personally escort each shipment in his Pharr police cruiser in exchange for $4,000 per trip.

In a separate venture, Beas purportedly struck a deal with another informant disguised as a Zeta weapons gatherer. And on July 9, he brokered a deal to sell a grenade, an M-16 assault rifle and a bulletproof vest he believed had been stolen from military stockpiles, according to court documents.

That’s when FBI agents swooped in to make their arrest.

Prosecutors allege Beas intended to work with another uncle — a military police officer stationed at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station — to steal the weapons. That man is currently under court marshal in Florida, Wells said.


LINKS TO CHINO?

Beas’ attorney Al Alvarez questioned Wednesday what evidence the government had that would link his client to any of Chino’s alleged actions.

The charges Beas faces all stem from the drug smuggling and weapons dealing that occurred while the officer was under FBI surveillance.

“There’s not one kidnapping charge in all the five counts of this indictment,” said Alvarez. The rest of the charges stem from law enforcement entrapment, he said.

But for Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas, the allegations alone were enough to convict. He fired Beas July 12 — three days after his arrest.

“These acts of criminal conduct … will not be allowed to tear through the fabric of community-built relationships … that (our) officers have worked hard to bring together,” he said in a statement.

As of late Wednesday night, Beas remained in federal custody without bond.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

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34 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

I am sure he is not the only one...I am sure that others are involved from the state to federal level. No one discriminates money.

Anonymous said...

just ONE cop got busted in this charade? is it because this all happened out in the sticks? at least in laredo when a cop got caught assisting the bad guys, at least three or more fell into the soup.

Anonymous said...

Who is Beas related to? Call me curious.

Anonymous said...

Its "Call me Curious" again. Who is Beas' uncle in Corpus Christi and which of the Zeta hierarchy is his relative?

Anonymous said...

This area is not out in the sticks. It has more than 700,000 residents comparable to laredo area. This area is across from reynosa tamaulipas Mexico.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt he acted alone and no other officer knew about this. Also, the article states his uncle who is a military officer in Corpus Christi is also involved in weapons smuggling which also means he has people on the naval base helping him as well.

Obviously both U.S. and Mexican officials cannot keep control of their rank and file police officers. The situation is less stable than the American media lets on.

Anonymous said...

This goes on in every border town in the U.S.,and on the U.S. side. But Obama says the problems are on the Mexican side.What a Jerk!

RiseMakaveli said...

Great Coverage Gerardo..
Can always rely on your articles to captivate my attention.

Great Read..
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Spill over violence has always existed but was never proved .. Now that Mexico has increased violence it is clearly seen violence in border towns on U.S. side are linked to the cartels... But let Obama ignore it...Mainstream media focuses so much around Arizonas situation on drug activity in which they forget that Texas is right behind with the same problem......

Anonymous said...

I don't think this area is comparable to Laredo. Think about it,, how many International bridges are here ...Brownsville/Matamoros... McAllen/Hidalgo/ Reynosa... the main ones .. Then you got Roma/Miguel Aleman. Plus more.. Across the border they call thay area "La Fronterita" . I think from Brownsville to Rio Grande City is way larger than Laredo.. So therefore there's a possibility of more bad apples....

Anonymous said...

IGNACION "NACHO" CORONEL DEAD!


http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jX2Dw8B3272HtVQLLdqO-56ET7dg

Anonymous said...

What is the fascination with comparing the valley area with LAREDO????

Anonymous said...

The FBI should be investigateing every bordertown police force for men and women assisting the cartels, like someone posted earlier no one discrimnates money. I live in Donna Texas about 10 minutes from Pharr and I can assure you that lots of these police officers and officals working for these towns are corrupt to the bone and for people who think these towns are small your mistaken imagine the population of New York city streched out along the southern Texas border.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately what you will also find is that even if they have actual proof of officers being involved in smuggling or helping the trafficking by rerouting it for its protection, the district attorney may decide it's not that important to do anything about it because they want the bigger fish. It happened in the bordertown of Del Rio. Proof in hand of Sherrif's deputies and Border Patrol Agents involved and nothing was done. They continue patrolling as if they were the hottest shit in town.

Anonymous said...

I read and chuckle at the same time. Seems that some of anonymous posts are from wanna be "police officer" but can't get a job...... There is a problem here in The US but not like in mexico.

Anonymous said...

I wrote that valley was comparable to laredo because someone posted the valley was out in the sticks (small) . The valley is not small and there is a lot of shady stuff going on. Good job FBI.

Anonymous said...

everything south of the check points is tex mex politics and everything north of the checkpoints is something else, so we need to give the military a warm abrazo welcome when they get here so as not to confuse the situation.

Anonymous said...

lol well mr chuckle you are right some very good men and women have been passed over that wanted very much to be in law enforcement but instead the good old boy system is in place and you end up with officers like this scumbag. I could start a very long list of officers that have repeatedly violated the law and have continued working as an officer even if it meant leaving one city and joining another.
Here is but a couple.
http://www.policewatch.org/
http://www.lapolicewatch.com/
heres another
Cop catches break in DWI case when arresting officer is no-show for court
By Jared Taylor The Monitor, Mc Allen, Texas
Publication: The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)
Date: Thursday, January 28 2010
http://www.allbusiness.com/crime-law-enforcement-corrections/law-arrests/13814030-1.html

Anonymous said...

hey, let me tell you something, you go to Salineno,or chapeno road, go down to the river and tell me what you see, i will tell you what you wont see, no police, no way they not know what is goin on there, NO WAY, go to falcon county park, see the guy hanging out under the tree drinkin beer in the middle of the day,different guy, different tree, always can see the road, always there, halcones en halcone park? you tell me, no patrols on the rio, no checks on the access roads, why? you tell me, jaja falcon, park so ironic

Anonymous said...

we need US army patrols on the river,, foot, water, mounted, all of it , the local boys along the frontera cannot be trusted , half of them don't even wont to speak english , and refer to the peso as the real money

Anonymous said...

@ 4:47... above...

...look at this culero talking about folks down hear not being able to speak English...when the MENSO can't even put a sentence together...in English... How about trying two languages on for size, pendjo...

Are you offering yourself up as an example? You are a great example! But you're the perfect example of why English-Only laws and English tests for citizenship are asinine. You can't even put a sentence together!!! Even when you know it will be seen by thousands!

Shaking head my head in disbelief at the gall...


AR
Por la Col. Delicias en
Matamoros.

(yes...in Mexico.)

Anonymous said...

TIME FOR THE USA TO GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ AND BRING SPECIAL FORCES AND ARMED MILITARY TO TEXAS TO GET RID OF ALL THE BAD APPLES IN MEXICO, AND GUARANTEE SAFETY TO ALL OUR BORDER TOWNS. HAS ANYBODY EVER WONDERED WHY NONE OF THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA IN THE USA REPORTS ON THE ENORMITY OF THE VIOLENCE, KILLINGS, ETC. GOING ON IN OUR OWN BACKYARD? SOMETHINGS FISHY HERE, AND IT AIN'T FISH. IT STINKS LIKE SOMETHING ELSE. FORGET ABOUT NATIONAL GUARD, THEY JUST STAND THERE AND DO NOTHING (IN LAREDO), WE NEED SPECIAL FORCES, MARINES AND ARMED MILITARY TO TAKE ON THE MEXICAN MAFIAS. WHY BOTHER WITH TRAINING THE AFGHANS WHERE 90% OF THEM ARE ILLITERATE. WE'VE SPENT A LOT MORE MONEY IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN THAN ALL THE PREVIOUS WARS COMBINED. WAKE UP AMERICA, AND PROTECT OUR BORDERS, SINCE THE ENEMY IS PRACTICALLY IN OUR OWN BACKYARDS. VERY SAD TO SEE MEXICO IN THIS POSITION WHERE INNOCENT PEOPLE ARE BEING KILLED IF THEY ARE CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROSSFIRE. WHAT THE HELL DO THE CARTELS WANT? DESTROY MEXICO? DESTROY TRADE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD USING MEXICO TO BRING IMPORTS/EXPORTS TO AMERICA? I SAY IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. SCREW THE CARTELS AND BRING THE MARINES. OBAMA IS JUST NOT DOING HIS JOB OR IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE SOUTHERN BORDER.

Anonymous said...

I was going to read your post but is all in caps. Just read the first two lines and you are right. But is already happening. Guess how we went to Iraq. Remember the behadings and car bombs? Woooohoooo Mexican Oil!!! Here we go !!!!! USA USA !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hay CAPS BOY:

POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878. POSSE COMITATUS ACT OF 1878.

I don't think a POTUS needs the media (or you) to tell him how or when to do his job...as incompetent as he could possibly be.

You on the other hand...since you dropped out of HS...better get back to flipping those burgers.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that drugs is the best of business.We never see large shipments of drug being detected ,we see relative large quantities,but we never see where those tons of cocaine go to.I am sure some senator or governor are in charge of protecting the big shipments.After all , the worse person you are, the higher you get in politics.My dad calls politics"THE SEWAGE SYSTEM"

Anonymous said...

the posse act will be welcomed just think paved roads and cable tv to millions of mexican acres.

Anonymous said...

hey senor shaking yer head at the gall


i said they don't WANT to speak english,

not that they can't, mebbe you don't read english very well, so para te, un poco espanol , tu estupido pinche madre, proximo tiempo, leer mas closely

Anonymous said...

20 years for doing all this.....slap on the wrist

Anonymous said...

He, he, ha, ha...

Man don't use Spanish...you kinda suck at it. I'd tell you to stick to English...but you need some help with that, too. Suggest shutting that "mak-n-chis" hole, maybe?

Your argument: After a closer look...So, the standard now is WANTING to speak English, not actually doing so? Is this for citizenship or just your standard on whether we should be rounded up and thrown back across the river? Depending on that, you and I might be sharing a seat on the bus on the way out...

Don't keep us waiting...what you gonna dribble now? ¿Aver, pendejo?


A señor still shaking his head at the gall (...that gall is quickly proving to have been denseness on the part of a trailer inhabitant...)

Anonymous said...

@ 4:47,

Please, gringo, wtf? Most of us Americans of Mexican descent choose to speak Spanish because we aren't ashamed of where we come from... Speaking for myself, I'm proud to be Mexicana. I love my Mexican family, and heritage, and it's really sad to see what is happening to my grandparents' country. That doesn't mean I don't also love my adopted country, the United States for giving me the chance to become an educated, contributing member of society. My parents came to the U.S. looking for the opportunity to have a better life. Through hard work, sweating like animals in the sun picking crops; they gave their children, the opportunity to have an education and choose whether we want to speak English, Spanish, or whatever other language. An idiot like you doesn't have the right to make a judgement on what you don't know.

Anonymous said...

so now you wanna get abusive, callin people gringo

you want to hear some little bad names too?

you just keep shakin yer hed culero

, at least i can speak a little of both linguas, so now you can shut yer tamale hole pendejo

i know a lot more than you think,

everybodys old people came here from somewhere and worked there asses off, not just those of mexican descent, i think you fuckwads are rascist pigs who are looking for an excuse to cry racism , when there is no intent, just so you know i love mexico and have family there as well, and i can't help it that i never got to go to the school so much as some of you smart asses like you say some people have to work a lot if you know so much why don't you go to mexico and fix all the problems

you all are really smart but not enough to know when to shut up

mebbe you better just stay safe where you are in your own world where you are the king

Anonymous said...

For 5:30
This is not the same gentleman shaking his head. If you noticed, I said I was proud to be Mexicana? That means I'm a woman, and me calling you a gringo was not mean to be an insult. Would calling you caucasian be better for you? Racist...hmmm, now we're getting to the bottom of this, dang! Haha, the racist card always gets thrown around by the one that knows they are wrong.

By the way, my boyfriend is gringo, and so is my nephew, so calling me racist is sooooo funny and kinda pathetic.

Anonymous said...

All right, All right! Did I hear someone mention a "Beer Summit?"

...bueno pero no te enojes... (Translation: "Alright!...just don't get mad [From the "El Chavo" children's television show shown to generations in Mexico; kinda like the Stooges or Little Rascals]).

Look Caucasian friend [I really, really mean it in a non-confrontational way], I'm just joshing and doing a "tit-for-tat" on you... ...you know... a Julio Cesar Chavez version of the Rope-a-Dope...

I really just wanted to get your passions going...make you a little hot under the collar...

BUT...IT IS ALL IN GOOD FUN!!! Relax. Your language is fine...I actually do understand what you're saying. I understand you're flying solo as far as Spanish is concerned but even with the inexpert Spanish you make yourself understood, which is all that matters. I do respect your views! REALLY, I do! No BS. I wouldn't be coming back to see what you wrote then write back, would I? Its kinda like a dog and hydrant relationship we've got going here, Que no? He, he... I'm a sick puppy aren't I?

However, having our views challenged is not disrespect; its just conversation. You wouldn't expect that your experience is the same for all of us, would you? Throwing a little "salt" in the pot or a few narrative elbows are a part of it. Didn't you ever fight/wrestle with your brother and get a bloody nose? I didn't have brothers but I once threw a 1-2 pitch to at one of my sisters with my old Star Wars X-Wing and put her in the hospital; so, its just people being people. Ok?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I sincerely apologize for stirring the pot a little too hard.

But more specifically, I apologize to you.


The Borderland Beat is an important part of my daily news junkie fix; and apparently it's yours, too. So, we have that in common; at least. Meanwhile, I've sentenced myself to wearing a dunce cap while reading my copy of "Blog Etiquette for Dummies" book.

So how about man? Some wings and a Shiner at the Nowhere Icehouse?

I'll leave my switchblade at home if you promise not to bring your golf clubs, ok? (Damb...there I go again...)



AR
Por el Ejido La Burrita, deep in the BB, en
Matamoros.

Anonymous said...

sweeden should be i charge of the USA - would be a nice place to live

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