Wife of suspected drug trafficker in Starr County posts bond

A federal judge set bond for the wife of an indicted drug trafficker in Starr County on Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker set bond at $75,000 with a $2,000 cash deposit for Julisa Peña, 32.

Peña was arrested last week and charged for her role in using up to $110,000 derived from drug trafficking.

Her husband, Evaristo Sepulveda, was indicted on drug trafficking charges last year. During his detention hearing in Feb. 11 2020, Peña admitted paying off their Rio Grande City home valued at $200,000 in cash payments over a period of two years — money that wasn’t accounted for in their tax records.

Prosecutors did not object to Peña’s release from bond Wednesday, though U.S. Attorney Patricia Profit asked for a higher cash deposit.

Profit said Peña lied on the stand when she denied knowing about drugs found in their house by investigators executing a search warrant on Feb. 5, 2020. Later, investigators found cellphone evidence that suggested she had knowledge of the drugs, Profit said.

Peña’s attorney, Rene Orlando Garza, said she did not have any criminal or drug history. Garza also said Peña returned to her job as a physical education and substitute teacher at IDEA this week and has two children who depend on her.

The judge denied the increased deposit amount proposed by the prosecutor.

When released, Peña will have to abide by certain conditions including avoiding contact with co-defendants, witnesses or victims, or traveling outside of the Southern District of Texas. She will be allowed to talk with her husband over the phone or in the presence of her attorney.

Peña posted bond Friday but was yet to be released as of Friday evening.

She is scheduled to be back in court next week for an arraignment.

A grand jury returned a superseding indictment this week that now includes Peña’s name in the same case naming her husband, brother-in-law and other co-defendants.

Peña’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.