Five Rio Grande City men plead not guilty to drug trafficking

Five Rio Grande City men pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges this week following a grand jury indictment handed down in May.

Jose Luis Garcia, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization, and four other defendants were indicted May 29 on a count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, a count of selling, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance, and a count of tampering for allegedly attempting to destroy surveillance cameras.

Daniel Sepulveda, Evaristo Sepulveda III, Juan Indalecio Garcia, and Rene Sepulveda were also charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and with selling, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance, according to the May 29 superseding indictment.

Jose Luis Garcia, 42, was previously charged with tampering when he was arrested in late March. The criminal complaint against him, filed March 26, claimed that in August 2019, he ordered a member of his alleged drug trafficking organization to destroy pole cameras.

On Aug. 31, 2019, federal agents observed that the square, protective boxes for two pole cameras had a bullet in them and later concluded that, based on the trajectory angle of the bullet that hit one of the boxes, the bullet was fired from a residence at 32 Midway Road in Rio Grande City.

That residence allegedly belonged to the father of Daniel and Rene Sepulveda.

Agents had previously encountered the two men on Aug. 30, when federal agents had executed search warrants at 25 Midway Road and 39 Alegria Circle. Those locations were suspected to be staging points for “hard narcotics and bulk cash currency from drug proceeds,” according to the criminal complaint filed in March.

At 25 Midway Road, the agents encountered Daniel and Rene Sepulveda whom agents had allegedly previously identified as members of the Garcia drug trafficking organization.

There, agents seized $83,920 in bulk currency and 15 firearms. When the agents also seized two cell phones from Daniel Sepulveda, he allegedly confronted one of the DEA agents “in an aggressive tone” and stated he wanted to take down the DEA cameras.

An analysis of Daniel Sepulveda’s and Jose Luis Garcia’s phones revealed that Garcia ordered Sepulveda to destroy the cameras, according to the criminal complaint.

Daniel Sepulveda, Evaristo Sepulveda III, Juan Indalecio Garcia were previously indicted in January on drug trafficking charges but were also included in the superseding indictment handed down on May 29 that now includes Jose Luis Garcia and Rene Sepulveda.

Jose Luis Garcia, Daniel Sepulveda, Juan Indalecio, and Evaristo Sepulveda III waived their appearance at their respective arraignments and all pleaded not guilty on June 4, according to court records.

During his arraignment on June 5, Rene Sepulveda also pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.