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Former Starr County JP plans to plead guilty for drug possession

Former Starr County Justice of the Peace Roel “Role” Valadez Jr. allegedly will plead guilty to drug trafficking Monday, for his role in part of the ‘Operation Ice River’ poly-drug case.

Roel “Role” Valadez Jr. Photo courtesy of Roel ‘Role’ Valadez Jr.’s Facebook.

Three years ago, Valadez was arrested on Sept. 15 for involvement in drug trafficking, and suspended from office five days later. Valdez was one of 18 additional Rio Grande City citizens arrested for distributing cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Eight of the eighteen citizens have been charged.

The citizens were involved in what the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces dubbed ‘Operation Ice River,’ an investigation focused on two separate cases implicating the allotment of large quantities of narcotics.

Valadez, 33, aided one of the drug traffic organization leaders, Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Garza, 43, by providing information on vehicles driven by local law enforcement and investigators. In 2021, the JP was one of 10 indicted who were involved in trafficking from July 2020 to September 2021.

Garza, the husband to former Rio Grande City secretary, Melissa, worked in communication with the Gulf Cartel to transport narcotics.

A plea agreement, signed on March 18, said Valadez would agree to plead guilty to count four of his indictment, where he “knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.”

He possessed less than 100 kilograms of marijuana, according to the indictment.

Valadez’s sentence is set for May. Garza, his wife, and the second alleged drug organization leader, Diego Alberto Reyes, await trial set to resume on April 1.

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