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Judge sentences former Donna police sergeant to nearly 15 years in prison for protecting drug shipments

A former police sergeant who escorted drug shipments through Donna in exchange for cash was sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sent former Donna police Sgt. Alejandro “Alex” Martinez, 43, of Hidalgo to federal prison during a hearing on Friday afternoon.

“I know I violated my oath,” Martinez said. “I take full responsibility.”

Martinez attended high schools in Hidalgo, Fort Worth and Edinburg, according to documents released under the Texas Public Information Act.

After graduation, he managed a motel in McAllen and enrolled at South Texas College. Martinez, though, couldn’t pass remedial classes. He dropped out and decided to become a police officer.

The Edcouch Police Department hired Martinez in 2000. After less than two years on patrol, he accepted a job with the Donna Police Department.

Martinez briefly left Donna for jobs with the McAllen Independent School District Police Department and the Hidalgo Police Department, but he always came back.

 

Former Donna police Sgt. Alejandro “Alex” Martinez, 43, of Hidalgo — at center wearing a blue shirt — left the federal courthouse in March 2022 after pleading guilty. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

 

By 2021, only one police officer had worked in Donna longer than Martinez, according to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records. He’d also become the target of a federal investigation.

When the investigation started remains unclear.

The Texas Rangers, however, opened a “bribery and corrupt influence” case on Martinez in January 2021 after meeting with the DEA.

A “confidential source” had told DEA agents that a drug smuggler named Victor Vallejo “uses a Donna Police Department Sergeant to help facilitate the movement of narcotics through the City of Donna,” according to a Texas Rangers report. “The CS identified the Donna Sergeant as Alejandro Martinez.”

The DEA set up a sting operation.

On Jan. 31, 2021, a DEA confidential source met with Martinez at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle, according to the criminal complaint against Martinez.

The confidential source, who is referred to as “CS” throughout the criminal complaint, recorded the conversation.

“MARTINEZ agreed to provide safe passage of illegal narcotics through the city,” according to the criminal complaint, and told the confidential source to contact Vallejo. “Lastly, MARTINEZ stated that the CS knows what is ‘fair’ to pay him (MARTINEZ) for providing safe passage of the illegal narcotics through the city of Donna.”

On Feb. 25, the confidential source called Martinez.

“MARTINEZ told the CS to ‘go for it’ and ‘I got you,’” according to the criminal complaint.

The confidential source drove through Donna with 5 kilograms of cocaine. Martinez, meanwhile, conducted a traffic stop.

“The CS understood that MARTINEZ would perform a traffic stop in order to distract other police units that may be in the area,” according to the criminal complaint.

After the car loaded with cocaine passed through Donna, the confidential source called Martinez again.

“MARTINEZ states to the CS that VALLEJO will be his (MARTINEZ’s) ‘middleman’ for receiving the payment,” according to the criminal complaint. They met in the parking lot of a local Whataburger, where the confidential source handed $1,500 to Vallejo.

The DEA arrested Martinez and Vallejo in May 2021. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

Martinez returned to court Friday for sentencing.

He apologized for breaking the law. He thanked the DEA agents who handled the investigation for their professionalism. And he asked Alvarez, the federal judge, for “clemency.”

Alejandro Martinez

Former Donna police Sgt. Alejandro “Alex” Martinez in an undated photo taken during a training exercise. (Courtesy photo.)

“My family and I have been going through a lot since my arrest,” Martinez said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Phelps requested a sentence within the guideline range — 168 to 210 months.

As a police officer, Martinez took an oath to uphold the law, Phelps said, but Martinez decided to break that oath to make a profit.

Martinez also shepherded a shipment of 100% pure methamphetamine through Donna.

His attorney, Richard H. Garcia of Edinburg, suggested the DEA had selected 100% pure methamphetamine to make the punishment more severe.

Agents created a crime to fit the punishment they wanted, Garcia said, rather than letting the punishment fit the crime.

Alvarez, the federal judge, said corruption in law enforcement “troubled her tremendously.”

People come to the United States to escape nations with corrupt law enforcement officers, Alvarez said, adding that by accepting bribes, Martinez damaged public trust in the justice system.

Alvarez sentenced Martinez to 175 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release.

As she announced the sentence, a woman in the audience started crying. Martinez turned around and blew a kiss in her direction before marshals escorted him from the courtroom.

“Honestly, that was a strong message that was sent by the federal judge to law enforcement today,” said Donna police Chief Gilbert Guerrero. “Hopefully some guys will listen to that message. And pick up on it.”

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