Authorities want to seize cash found in the hands of an alleged drug trafficker while making sure he goes to jail for at least five years.
As a forfeiture case against 62-year-old Homero Garza of 1613 Walnut in McAllen continues in Wharton County’s 329th District Court, so does the criminal one.
The Wharton County Grand Jury handed down a single count money laundering indictment against Garza during its August deliberations. It accuses him of having the cash, earned via the sale of narcotics, on June 3.
If convicted, Garza faces five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Garza had more than $300,000, according to the indictment, but the seizure case filed by the Wharton County District Attorney’s office notes it more precisely at $785,511.
The case started June 3 when a state trooper stopped Garza’s southbound Ford F-150 on U.S. 59 for speeding.
Garza told the trooper he was headed home to McAllen after visiting his son-in-law in Katy.
Garza refused the trooper’s request to search his vehicle, prompting a K-9 to be called to the scene.
The dog alerted to the scent of narcotics.
“A search of the truck resulted in the discovery of five boxes filled with U.S. currency wrapped in plastic with various markings/numbers on packages,” according to the seizure filings.
This included 2,221 one dollar bills while the count of $20 bills equaled 25,209.
Asked about the cash, the report says Garza claims to have met a prostitute who introduced him to people wanting packages transported.
“Garza (said he) is unemployed on disability and claimed he (Garza) did now know bulk currency was inside the boxes,” the filing said.
Troopers disbelieved this statement, however, because Garza could not or would not answer questions about the people who had allegedly hired him, “which is consistent with individuals working within and for a large drug trafficking organization.”
Three cellphones were also found in the vehicle.
Garza’s attorney filed a general denial of the allegations, challenging the seizure a month before the grand jury took action on the evidence in the criminal proceeding.
For now, both cases remain pending.