On Friday, federal authorities arrested 23-year-old El Paso police officer Monica Garcia for allegedly helping a local drug distributor to further his criminal enterprise.
The arrest was announced by U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Kyle Williamson, El Paso Division; and El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen.
According to three-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges Garcia and 44-year-old Fred Saenz with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; conspiracy to unlawfully use a communication facility; and conspiracy to maintain a drug involved premise.
The indictment also charges Saenz with one count of possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine.
According to court records, on November 10, 2020, DEA and the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) executed two search warrants at two different residences in El Paso utilized by Saenz to conduct drug trafficking activity.
Agents and officers seized approximately $14,450.00 at one residence and approximately 1.2 kilograms of cocaine at the second residence. Saenz was arrested at that time based on a federal criminal complaint.
According to law enforcement officials, further investigation revealed that Garcia used her law enforcement access with EPPD to conduct counter-surveillance measures for Saenz, including running license plates on vehicles associated with undercover operations.
“Law enforcement officers must he held to the highest standards,” said U.S. Attorney Sofer. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring that any public official who violates the law is brought to justice, and we will always devote the necessary resources to ensure that this important part of our mission is carried out effectively.”
“The defendant is alleged to have committed serious crimes, which are compounded by the fact that she was sworn to uphold the law,” stated Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “Although this is an isolated case, the charged conduct still unfairly tarnishes the proud reputation of the thousands of law enforcement officers in the El Paso area who put their lives on the line every day to protect our residents and their communities.”
“All El Paso Police Department employees are sworn to uphold the law and are held to the highest of standards. The men and women of the El Paso Police Department are dedicated to serving the community and are appalled at the actions of this individual. Every officer takes an oath and I want to ensure the community that any officer who violates that oath will be dealt with sternly and swiftly. We also thank DEA for their cooperation in investigating this case,” said El Paso Police Chief Allen.
Conspiracy to unlawfully use a communication facility calls for up to four years in federal prison upon conviction. Conspiracy to maintain a drug involved premise calls for up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction. Saenz faces between five and 40 years in federal prison upon conviction of the drug related charges. Garcia faces up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction of the drug related charges.
Garcia and Saenz remain in federal custody at this time.
The DEA and the EPPD’s Narcotics Unit and Special Investigations Unit are investigating this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Williams and Steven Spitzer are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Officials added that is important to note that a federal grand jury indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.