Panama Unit saga ends with sentences handed down

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POSTED: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 4:07pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 8:15am

The trial of former law enforcement officers on the other side of the law concluded Wednesday. 

A total of 11 former lawmen or drug traffickers they worked with were handed sentences for stealing drugs and reselling them for personal profit.

The overriding theme of the day was attacking Jonathan Treviño, the son of former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño. 

One by one, Panama Unit members said Treviño was the mastermind of the group. 

They said he was the one who negotiated drug deals, the one who approved every move and the one who offered protection. Treviño got 17 years, the longest sentence of any unit member in the case. 

Fernando Guerra Sr. got the next highest at 15 years. A total of six former lawmen or drug traffickers were sentenced Wednesday, joining the five from Tuesday for a total of 11. 

Among them was Alexis Espinosa, son of Hidalgo Police Chief Rudy Espinosa. Espinosa got 14 years. 

He said in court he joined up after he was asked to by Treviño, a childhood friend. Treviño's cohorts said they tried to talk him out of continuing to escalate the crimes they were committing. 

They said he refused to stop, and instead, Treviño used his influence with his father to threaten them. 

They added that Treviño was the leader of the group because he offered protection due to his influence with the Sheriff's Office. That was what ultimately led to having the longest sentence of the group. 

Everyone of the Panama Unit members got a reduced sentence for cooperating with prosecutors to help weed out other corruption in Rio Grande Valley law enforcement. 

They all took full responsibility for they did. Judge Crane told all of them that they'll have a lot of life left after they get out of prison, and that they'll have a chance to make it up to society. 

Jonathan Treviño also said his dad didn't have any idea what was going on. He thanked investigators for arresting him before "Somebody got hurt or killed." 

 

His father Lupe had previously pleaded guilty to corruption charges as well.  

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