Lynn Brezosky - Express-News
The 52-year-old sheriff, also known as “Tio,” is a defendant in an indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury this month. The 19-count indictment alleges that Guerra and 14 other defendants were part of a conspiracy — dubbed “Operation Carlito's Weigh” by investigators — to move hundreds of pounds of marijuana and cocaine through the remote border county.
He faces 10 years to life in prison plus a $4 million fine if convicted on the conspiracy charge, up to 20 years in prison plus a $2 million fine on the accessory charge and up to four years in prison plus a $250,000 fine on the third charge.
His attorney, Philip Hilder of Houston, said he is innocent.
“We will answer the charges in a court of law,” Hilder said.
Among them, Eugenio “Gene” Falcon, a predecessor in the Starr County Sheriff's Office, went to prison in 1998 for taking kickbacks from a bail bondsman. Former Zapata County Sheriff Romeo T. Ramirez pleaded guilty in 1994 to accepting bribes from federal agents posing as drug dealers.
Former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu is serving more than 26 years in prison for using his badge to extort money from drug dealers and other criminals. And former Laredo Police Chief Agustin Dovalina is behind bars for taking bribes to protect illegal eight-liner gambling parlors.