Federal smuggling charges filed against San Juan murder suspect

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A 47-year-old Mission man accused of a fatal beating in San Juan has joined his son in federal custody after being indicted for bringing in and harboring people in the country illegally.

Samuel Uvalle Sr.
Roberto Salas
Jesus Grijalva
Monica Victoria Gomez

Samuel Uvalle Sr. and his son Samuel Uvalle Jr. were indicted on three counts of harboring on June 11.

Samuel Uvalle Sr. is also facing charges of murder for the May 7 beating death at a San Juan stash house of Juan Carlos Hernandez de Leon, whose body was found buried in a barrel in Edinburg.

Monica Victoria Gomez, 41, of San Juan, Jesus Grijalva, 43, of San Juan, and Roberto Salas, 35, of Mission, are all also charged with murder.

Salas remains a fugitive.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts can call the sheriff’s office at (956) 383-8114, or to remain anonymous call the county’s Crime Stoppers hotline at (956) 668-8477 or submit an anonymous tip through the P3 TIPS app.

The murder happened around 4 a.m. on May 7 when Samuel Uvalle Sr. began arguing with Hernandez at a residence located at 1913 Morningset Road in San Juan.

The argument turned into a beating where Salas and Grijalva “joined Samuel Uvalle (Sr.)” in assaulting Hernandez with a “hammer tool,” according to affidavits.

In a previous news release, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office “developed information” that Gomez also participated in the assault.

After Hernandez’s death, his body was moved and buried at 4610 E. Wisconsin Road in Edinburg, according to the sheriff’s office.

Meanwhile, Samuel Uvalle Jr. was arrested on human smuggling charges at the San Juan stash house while authorities were investigating the homicide.

He is not charged with murder.

A federal criminal complaint for his arrest said some of the people being held in the house “heard someone beaten.”

Samuel Uvalle Jr. was scheduled to be arraigned on the federal indictment on Wednesday, but his attorney filed a waiver of arraignment and entered a not guilty plea.

Samuel Uvalle Sr. is scheduled for arraignment in McAllen federal court on Friday morning in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker, court records show.

Gomez remains held in the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on a total of $4,360,000 on various charges, including murder and tampering with evidence.

Grijalva also remains jailed. He has a total of $5,405,000 in bonds on various charges, including the murder charge.