Jailer accused of smuggling drugs into county jail

BROWNSVILLE — A Cameron County detention officer was arrested and charged with allegedly smuggling marijuana in M&Ms packets to inmates at the Old County Jail in exchange for cash from an unnamed individual.

Copies of an Affidavit for Warrantless Arrest of Ivan Montoya, 24, Brownsville, provided to The Brownsville Herald stated that he was identified by an inmate via a photograph during an investigation into the presence of marijuana in a section of the facility during the last week of February.

Both the affidavit and a copy of Montoya’s inmate booking indicated that he was taken into custody on March 2 at 4:10 p.m. by the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department. An order finding probable cause to charge Montoya with a third-degree felony, signed by Magistrate Judge Erin H. Garcia on March 3, set bond at $7,500.

Sheriff Omar Lucio could not be reached for comment on Friday. According to the county’s Human Resources Department, Montoya’s employment with the county was terminated on March 2.

The affidavit, signed by Peace Officer Joel Luis Gallegos, stated that the official was contacted by Cameron County Detention Cpl. Daniel Castillo on Feb. 24 regarding the location of marijuana while conducting cell searches at the Old County Jail.

The affidavit explained that Castillo and Lt. Samuel Sanchez received information that there were possibly narcotics in the 2CD section of the facility, and that a short time later staff began to smell the odor of something burning and decided to conduct a cell search.

According to the report, Sanchez stated that officers located a green leafy substance which appeared to be marijuana. The contraband included “1 – cigarette, 2- black mild cigars and tattoo ink,” Gallegos wrote. He added that Sanchez said the items were “located in the underwear” of an inmate.

Additional cell searches conducted the following day resulted in the discovery of more marijuana, according to the affidavit. According to the report, on Feb. 26, an inmate who refused to put anything in writing identified Montoya in a photo as the officer who brought in the marijuana.

The affidavit explained that Montoya was brought into the Olmito Sheriff’s Office, where he was read his Miranda rights and waiver and agreed to speak. “Mr. Montoya stated that on 2 separate occasions that he met a female at the Stripes convenience store on Expressway 77 and FM 511,” the report stated.

The peace officer wrote that that the female provided Montoya with a packet of M&Ms, which contained the contraband. “Mr. Montoya stated that the first time he was given $50 and the second time he was given $100 in cash,” the officer wrote.

According to the affidavit, Montoya told Gallegos that on both occasions he took the packet of M&Ms in to the Old County Jail and provided them to the inmate who eventually identified him in the photograph.

In addition, the report stated Montoya told the investigator that “he was told by several inmates that everyone knew that he was the one who brought in the contraband and that several inmates even told him to quit.”