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Prosecutors drop all charges against former Sullivan City police chief in marijuana theft case

The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against former Sullivan City police Chief Miguel Martinez last week.

State District Judge Mario E. Ramirez Jr. dismissed the case on March 15.

“I believe the DA’s Office finally did the right thing,” said attorney Juan “Sonny” Palacios of Edinburg, who represented Martinez. “The judge saw what was right.”

Prosecutors decided to drop the charges after Ramirez granted a motion to suppress key evidence in the case.

“If they suppress the evidence, we can’t go forward,” said Hidalgo County District Attorney Terry Palacios.

The case against Martinez started in 2015, when Sullivan City police Sgt. Daniel Duran contacted the Texas Rangers.

Former Sullivan City police Chief Miguel Martinez. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

Duran said that Martinez had allowed Officer Angel de la Mora to remove stray bits of marijuana from the Sullivan City evidence room. de la Mora placed the marijuana in bottles of rubbing alcohol — and took the bottles home.

Security cameras recorded the incident.

Duran, concerned someone would delete the video to cover up what happened, decided to surreptitiously record parts of the video with his phone. Duran provided the video clips to Texas Ranger Bobby Garcia.

After reviewing the video clips, Garcia interviewed de la Mora about the incident.

de la Mora said “the chief had given him consent to take the marijuana,” according to a report Garcia prepared, which summarized the interview.

“Officer DELAMORA reported he took the two bottles home,” according to the report, which continued: “one bottle was for his father for his arthritis, the other bottle was for his father-in-law.”

After the interview, Garcia drove to de la Mora’s house and recovered two bottles of rubbing alcohol.

One bottle contained 5.79 ounces of marijuana, according to the report. The other bottle contained 2.87 ounces.

Garcia also interviewed Martinez.

“Chief MARTINEZ stated he never gave him permission to take marijuana and instead told Officer DELAMORA (in Spanish) ‘leave it there, don’t take it because it looks bad and there’s cameras,’” according to the report.

Garcia asked Martinez why he didn’t stop de la Mora from taking the marijuana.

“Chief MARTINEZ replied he had expected him to comply when given an order,” according to the report, “but could not provide Ranger GARCIA with a decisive answer.”

The Texas Rangers executed a search warrant at Sullivan City Hall, but the video footage had already been deleted. Garcia decided to move forward with the clips Duran had recorded on his phone.

Prosecutors took the case to a grand jury, which indicted de la Mora and Martinez.

de la Mora struck a deal with the District Attorney’s Office, surrendered his peace officer license and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Martinez, though, insisted he was innocent.

His first attorney, David A. Higdon of Edinburg, claimed the case had fatal flaws.

Higdon argued that Martinez couldn’t be charged with theft because the stray bits of marijuana weren’t actually worth anything. Higdon also argued that Martinez received no benefit when de la Mora took the marijuana, so he couldn’t be charged with abuse of official capacity either.

Ramirez, the judge, agreed — and quashed the indictment.

In 2018, the 13th Court of Appeals overruled Ramirez.

“We determine that the trial court erred in granting the motion to quash,” according to an opinion from the 13th Court of Appeals, “but that it should have directed the State to amend Counts II and III to provide greater specificity as to the offenses alleged therein.”

The case returned to court, where Ramirez signed a motion to suppress the video clips because they didn’t show the whole incident.

Once again, the 13th Court of Appeals overruled Ramirez.

“The trial court explained that the cell phone video was being suppressed because Duran ‘selectively’ recorded portions of the surveillance footage rather than recording ‘the entire thing,’” according to an opinion released by the 13th Court of Appeals in 2022. “However, there is no rule of evidence or other authority requiring ‘the entire thing’ to be offered into evidence in order for a part of the whole to be admissible. Instead, whether a video recording is ‘complete’ goes to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility.”

Martinez’s second attorney, Sonny Palacios, filed another motion to suppress the video clips in February 2023, claiming Duran had acted in bad faith.

“At no time did Sullivan City Officer Duran attempt (sic) preserve the totality of the evidence, but only portions and excerpts of tainted evidence in order to create a false narrative,” according to the motion.

Ramirez signed another order to suppress the video clips.

Prosecutors, faced with the prospect of a third appeal, decided to drop the case.


  1. Nelida Soliz on March 24, 2023 at 9:55 am

    I always knew that you did not do anything wrong. You have always been a an honest man

  2. Nancy Gonzalez on March 27, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    Can Martínez file a lawsuit for false accusations?
    I would go after the prosecutors too.

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