Another day, another police officer abuses his power. Yesterday (Monday, January 11), the jury was selected for the trial of Noe Juarez, a former 20-year veteran of the Houston police force and Marine. Juarez stands accused of aiding the operation of Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel. According to The Times-Picayune:
Prosecutors say Juarez knew that brothers Sergio and Efrain Grimaldo received cocaine from Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel, and that he aided their drug distribution conspiracy with materials and information. Sergio Grimaldo was named as a co-defendant with Juarez in their original indictment, but he pleaded guilty Sept. 23, to conspiring to distribute cocaine, according to The Associated Press. Efrain Grimaldo, was found guilty on a related charge in 2014 and sentenced to more than 33 years in prison.
Prosecutors contend that Juarez received five kilos of cocaine from the cartel with the intent of distributing it in Houma, LA, and other areas. The drugs were allegedly given to a crew named the Up Da Bayou Boyz to distribute. In return, Juarez supplied Los Zetas with guns, vehicles (that he personally financed), bulletproof vests, police radio scanners and confidential police intelligence.
In addition to witness testimony, prosecutors claim to have video, photos and records to slam Juarez with. The Times reports:
Prosecutors have an audio recording in which Juarez, talking with an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, agrees to access Houston Police Department data to aid one of the conspirators.
Prosecutors also intend to show Juarez’s alleged involvement in other, similar drug conspiracies, to illustrate the depth of his involvement in drug trafficking conspiracies, records say. Included in that evidence is a video recording of Juarez providing guns to another DEA agent, court records say. A Houston Chronicle report says video recorded in 2011 shows an undercover agent asking Juarez, who is wearing his police uniform, about the quality of an assault rifle he supplied her.
“These are the best,” he tells her, according to the report, during their late-night meeting in a nightclub parking lot.
Prosecutors don’t have to necessarily prove that Juarez was moving drugs himself for a conviction. They do have to prove that he “conspired to support the trafficking operation.” If convicted, Juarez could be locked away for life in prison.