At about 3 p.m. on May 12, 2004, three agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were monitoring an alleged sale of 10 kilograms of cocaine in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store at the border between Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas, when some of the participants became aware they were being watched and fled.
There were three vehicles involved—a van driven by the DEA informant who brokered the planned sale, Ruben Contreras-Mendoza; a Ford Expedition, and a pick-up truck. Before the sale could take place, the targets of the transaction aborted the deal and the Expedition was driven away so recklessly and at such high speeds that the agents abandoned pursuit.
When the deal went awry, Contreras-Mendoza abandoned the van and jumped in the pick-up, which the agents were able to track using an air unit to Webb’s Bar & Grill in Irving, Texas. The agents found the Expedition parked there when they arrived. As the pick-up drove through the parking lot, they saw someone jump from the Expedition into the bed of the truck and crawl into the cab through a rear window. The truck then sped off and escaped.
The cocaine was found in the Expedition. The agents also found a dry-cleaning receipt which led them to the home of Vazquez’s sister in Dallas. When they went to the home, they saw Vazquez on the porch and believed they recognized him. On August 19, 2004, Vazquez was arrested and a search of the home turned up a rifle.
On September 22, 2004, a federal grand jury indicted Hector Vazquez, along with Contreras-Mendoza and two other men, Hector Arturo Ramos and Fidel Aguilera, on charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
A month later, the indictment against Ramos was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Contreras-Mendoza and Aguilera were fugitives.
On November 8, 2004, Vazquez went on trial and the three DEA agents identified him as a passenger in the Expedition and the person who jumped into the back of the pick-up as it fled Webb’s Bar & Grill. Vazquez presented witnesses who testified he was elsewhere at the time the drug deal was aborted.
Vazquez, 28, was convicted by a jury that same day and a sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 4, 2005. On the day before the sentencing, Vazquez filed a motion for new trial alleging that Contreras-Mendoza and Aguilera had been arrested and that Aguilera had told authorities that Vazquez was not involved.
Instead, Aguilera said, the passenger in the Expedition was Jaime Delbosque, Jr., and that the driver was Delbosque’s father, Jaime Sr.
As a result, a hearing on the motion was set for March 17, 2005. At the hearing Aguilera and Contreras-Mendoza both testified that the passenger was the younger Delbosque—a man who closely resembled Vazquez. The three DEA agents re-asserted their identifications of Vazquez.
On April 1, 2005, U.S. District Judge John McBryde set aside the cocaine conviction and granted Vazquez a new trial.
On May 5, 2005, a federal grand jury declined to re-indict Vazquez on the cocaine charge, but did return an indictment on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm resulting from the recovery of the rifle in his sister’s home when he was initially arrested in August, 2004.
On June 7, 2005, a jury convicted Vazquez of the weapons charge and he was sentenced to 70 months in prison.
– Maurice Possley