McALLEN, Texas – A 40-year-old Donna man has been ordered
to federal prison following his conviction of conspiracy to possess with the
intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, announced U.S.
Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Juan Fernando Mata pleaded guilty Jan. 9, 2019.
Today, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered Mata
to serve 130 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by four years
of supervised release.
At the hearing, Judge Alvarez considered Mata’s role in
assisting members of a “rip crew” by conducting fraudulent traffic stops on
drug load vehicles so that members of that crew could steal the controlled
Specifically, the court considered Mata’s role in
conducting traffic stops in January 2016 and another in May 2017, to assist
members in stealing approximately nine kilograms of cocaine and approximately
400 pounds of marijuana, respectfully,
The court also heard allegations were made about Mata
assisting members of a second “rip crew” by conducting similar activity.
In pronouncing the sentence today, Judge Alvarez noted
that while the rip crew members’ conduct in conducting home invasions and
carjackings was reprehensible, Mata’s conduct could also be described as such.
The court stated how Mata’s actions eroded the public trust and the sense of
security in knowing that law enforcement officers are individuals that can be
turned to in the event of a home invasion or other criminal conduct. Judge
Alvarez noted that when any law enforcement officer commits criminal conduct,
it effects law enforcement as a whole and gives the area a bad name.
In considering the many letters of support for Mata,
including the City of Donna Mayor and employees of Donna Independent School
District, the court noted its concern with individuals viewing him as a role
model. She stated that it speaks to poor principles when someone sworn to
uphold and enforce the law completely disregards it.
Mata was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily
surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near
The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the
investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s
Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roberto Lopez Jr. and K. Alejandra Andrade
prosecuted the case.