A local attorney confessed Monday to providing members of a drug trafficking organization with court records in exchange for cash.
Eric Samuel Jarvis, 48, of Mission provided criminal complaints to members of a drug trafficking organization at least eight times between July 2017 and May 2021, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The organization paid him at least $8,000 for the information.
“Eric is very remorseful for his lack of better judgment and looks forward to getting this chapter of his life behind him,” said attorney Carlos A. Garcia of Mission, who represents Jarvis.
The investigation, which agents dubbed “Operation Dead Men Walking,” linked Jarvis to a drug trafficker named Angel Aziel Herrera.
Agents determined that Jarvis downloaded criminal complaints from PACER, a computer system that allows the public to access federal court records.
“Jarvis admitted to obtaining the criminal complaints from PACER on at least eight occasions from July 24, 2017, through May 2021 and providing them to Herrera and/or his co-conspirators by WhatsApp or hand delivery,” according to the news release.
When a drug shipment is seized by law enforcement, the person or organization that owned the drugs typically requests documentation.
“Jarvis knew criminal complaints had documented loads that law enforcement seized from the organization,” according to the news release. “He also knew Herrera and his successors could and would provide the complaints to their sources of supply in order to continue receiving drugs from their sources of supply for importation and distribution into the United States.”
Along with criminal complaints, Jarvis provided the organization with legal services.
“He also admitted to accepting drug trafficking proceeds from Mexico as payment from Herrera to represent other co-conspirators working for the organization in criminal matters,” according to the news release.
When the investigation started remains unclear.
In April, though, federal agents searched the Villalobos Law Center in McAllen. Jarvis shared the building with other attorneys, including McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos and San Juanita Sanchez, the former mayor of San Juan.
News about the search warrant stunned many in Hidalgo County, where Jarvis had practiced law for more than two decades — and mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for state district judge in the mid-2000s.
During the past few years, Jarvis handled a wide variety of legal work, which ranged from federal criminal defense to construction defect lawsuits.
Judges at the federal courthouses in McAllen and Corpus Christi apparently were informed about the investigation within days of the search warrant.
On May 5, a magistrate judge in Corpus Christi held sealed hearings in two cases where Jarvis represented people accused of drug trafficking and human smuggling. After the hearings, the magistrate judge appointed new attorneys to represent them.
Hearings in McAllen had the same result. Two people represented by Jarvis suddenly had new attorneys.
Jarvis, meanwhile, negotiated a deal with prosecutors.
On Monday, he appeared before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa and pleaded guilty to violating the federal Travel Act by using a phone to assist members of a drug trafficking organization.
Jarvis pleaded guilty to a charging document called a criminal information, which is typically used when a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1. Jarvis faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.