Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez has fired his crime victims coordinator after she was arrested in an alleged scheme to smuggle people into the country in a county vehicle, according to a news release.
Ramirez said Bernice Garza was arrested following an investigation by his office, Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas Rangers.
The news release also said authorities arrested Magali Rosa, 40, and Juan Antonio Charles, 40.
The trio are accused of using a vehicle belonging to the Crime Victim’s Center to transport people in the country illegally to the Houston area, according to the release.
The Victoria County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that a deputy stopped a vehicle at approximately 12:20 p.m. Wednesday in the 9000 block of Highway 59 South in the Raisin Community of unincorporated Victoria County.
Authorities there identified the vehicle as a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse that displayed the emblem of the Starr County District Attorney’s Office, and a license plate check showed it was registered to that office.
Deputies identified the driver of the vehicle as Rosa, who claimed she was an employee of the Starr County District Attorney’s Office, according to the release.
However, the investigation revealed that was not true and investigators determined she was using the vehicle to move people in the country illegally.
The Victoria County Sheriff’s Office said five additional people were in the vehicle, including Charles. The sheriff’s office said four of those people were in the country illegally.
As the investigation unfolded, investigators there learned the vehicle was assigned to Garza.
Rosa and Charles are facing federal charges of engaging in a conspiracy to smuggle people in the country illegally. Charles faces an additional charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon.
The Victoria County Sheriff’s Office said that prior to the traffic stop, Ramirez, the Starr County District Attorney, had already initiated an investigation concerning Garza’s alleged misuse of a county vehicle.
“This investigation is an example of no one being above the law, and our office taking swift action in eliminating public corruption,” the Starr County release said.
Ramirez said the allegations are a prime example of the violation of public trust to the community, the victims Garza helped and the Starr County District Attorney’s Office.
“On behalf of the 229th District Attorney’s Office, we would like to thank all law enforcement personnel involved in the investigation of this matter,” the release said. “To our community, please know that the actions of this one individual are not representative of the hard work that our employees and investigators put in day in and day out.
“We initiated this investigation in order to find the truth, no matter where it led, and we will continue with that duty to bring justice to our district.”
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