39-year-old Ramon De La Cruz Jr. was a detective at the Rio Grande City Police Department in Texas until 2016 when he was arrested and fired for helping aid the Beltran Mexican drug cartel. On August 7, 2019 De La Cruz was sentenced to 14 years in prison on a conviction of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.
De La Cruz pleaded guilty on April 4, 2017.
The investigation started on Jan. 21, 2013, when the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office discovered about 600 pounds of marijuana hidden in a horse trailer, The Monitor.com reports.
Homeland Security Investigations agents tracked the shipment back to a ranch in Rio Grande City.
Operating from the ranch, the Beltran Cartel moved marijuana to Dallas, Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Beltran drug trafficking organization eventually started stealing marijuana from suppliers with help from corrupt cops.
Informants developed during the investigation said De La Cruz worked with drug traffickers.
De la Cruz befriended Ramiro Beltran Sr., they attended a Pentecostal church together. Ramiro was the leader of the Beltran Cartel.
The Beltran Cartel transported marijuana for the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas Cartel.
De La Cruz escorted loads of marijuana for the Beltran Cartel through Starr County, Texas while he was on duty. De La Cruz also assisted in the theft of marijuana loads from other traffickers by producing fictitious police reports of law enforcement interdictions that never took place and assisted in the theft of drug proceeds with mock law enforcement take downs.
De La Cruz scouted highways for the Beltran drug traffickers, helping them evade law enforcement. Additionally De La Cruz provided law enforcement documents to the Beltran Cartel.
De La Cruz also provided the Beltran drug cartel with a stolen law enforcement radio and a Starr county seal embosser and disposed of weapons taken from the Beltran ranch previously used in other violent felonies. Federal agents later seized two Motorola radios from a drug trafficker’s home. The agents also recovered photos showing De La Cruz posing with drug traffickers at the Las Palmas Downs horse track in Mission, Texas.
De La Cruz was paid for his services with race horses, drugs, and thousands of dollars in drug proceeds.
Prosecutors indicted at least four members of the Beltran Cartel. Witnesses who testified at trial said De la Cruz also helped the Beltrans cover up a kidnapping and murder committed by the Gulf Cartel.
Someone had stolen a large amount of cocaine from a Gulf Cartel stash house in Alton, Texas. The Gulf Cartel dispatched a kidnapping team to find the people responsible.
They abducted the wrong man. The kidnapping team, concerned the man could identify them, took him to Mexico anyway. The man was never heard from again.
After the kidnapping, a Gulf Cartel plaza boss asked the Beltran Cartel to cover up the crime by hiding guns and tactical supplies.
The Beltrans buried weapons and tactical vests used by the kidnappers on their ranch. But when they heard the full story, the Beltrans became nervous and asked De La Cruz to dispose of the weapons. De La Cruz took the weapons to a gun shop and sold them.
During sentencing U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey addressed De La Cruz saying:
“You committed this crime while wearing a uniform and a badge — and that is reprehensible. I hope that my sentence will adequately and appropriately address what you did.”
De La Cruz worked for the Starr County Sheriff’s Office from April 2002 to October 2014, he later resigned and became a detective at the Rio Grande City Police Department, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records.