Edinburg man and accused drug trafficking leader gets 15 years

A Rio Grande Valley drug trafficker accused of paying dirty cops and at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent to steal drug loads and fake seizures, was sentenced during a hearing in Houston, records show.

During a sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison handed down a 180-month prison sentence for 47-year-old Dimas DeLeon Rios related to his participation in a drug smuggling scheme that utilized law enforcement to steal drugs from his suppliers.

DeLeon, a Mexican national and resident of Edinburg, was the leader of a drug trafficking organization that had moved nearly 200 kilos of cocaine and tampered with at least three witnesses during the course of a more than 10-year investigation into him and others, including corrupt law enforcement.

“Judge Ellison found that firearms were used during the commission of the offense and noted a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen at the hands of members of the Gulf Cartel was part of the case,” the release stated.

The investigation into the drug cartel, which began in earnest more than a decade ago in 2011, was focused on targeting the transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

“Authorities soon found the organization was also stealing loads of cocaine and marijuana from its sources of supply. As part of the scheme, the organization had created fake bundles of drugs and used law enforcement officers to seize them in order to cover up the theft,” the release stated.

DeLeon was accused of facilitating the distribution of more than 194 kilograms of cocaine during the course of the conspiracy — while others were hired to transport the cocaine, but instead stole and sold it for profit.

To cover up their scheme to steal from their sources of supply, co-conspirators created fake drug bundles that were placed in abandoned vehicles.

DeLeon paid corrupt law enforcement officers for their participation in the scheme to seize the fake drugs, including a few from the Rio Grande Valley.

In early 2020, Hector Beltran, a former officer with the Edinburg Police Department, was sentenced to a more than 10-year prison sentence after he was convicted for his role in the scheme.

Testimony at Beltran’s trial showed that the now ex-cop, personally conducted and assisted other law enforcement agencies with the seizure of approximately 600 kilograms of what was later determined to be fake marijuana and nearly 170 kilograms of fake cocaine.

The jury also heard the drug trafficking organization paid Beltran for his participation in each seizure of fake drugs.

Beltran testified at trial and denied participating in the scheme, but jurors ultimately found him guilty.

The former Edinburg cop was only one of several law enforcement officers in Texas, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent, who were found to be working with Dimas and his cartel to steal loads of drugs.

In late 2020, Daniel Polanco, a now-former U.S Border Patrol agent, was sentenced to a more than 14-year-prison sentence for his role in the scheme.

Like Beltran and other law enforcement ensnared in the scheme, Polanco participated in the scheme to steal loads from sources of supply.

During Polanco’s trial, jurors heard how the Border Patrol agent helped move more than 15 kilos of cocaine in April 2013.

Polanco assisted in the planning and staging of that fake seizure and devised a plan to ensure law enforcement seized the sham bundles. Polanco personally called authorities to report the abandoned vehicle and falsely reported the vehicle as looking suspicious.

Testimony revealed the drug trafficking organization paid Polanco for his role in the scheme to seize the fake drugs. The jury also heard he made a false statement to an agent who was investigating the 15-kilogram cocaine seizure in an attempt to cover up his involvement in the transaction.

DeLeon, a non-U.S. citizen who will likely be deported upon completion of his 180-month prison sentence, will remain in federal custody pending his transfer to a bureau of prisons facility, the release stated

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