Laredo Police Officer Indicted for Cocaine Conspiracy

LAREDO, TX—Orlando Jesus Hale, 27, of Laredo, has been arrested as a result of the return of a sealed indictment which charges him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and the use, carrying and possession of a firearm during and in relation to or in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

The sealed indictment returned on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, by a Laredo federal grand jury was unsealed today following Hale’s arrest. According to the indictment, Hale is alleged to have engaged in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine between Oct. 15, 2008, to Nov. 30, 2008, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and possessing the firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime between Nov. 7 to Nov. 25, 2008.

“The Laredo Police Department continues its mission of working with law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and security of our community,” said Carlos R. Maldonado, Chief of the Laredo Police Department. “The arrest today signifies our commitment to ensuring that anyone that is accused of violating the law is held accountable. We remain focused on our mission to serve and protect and this incident should in no way be a reflection of the men and women who proudly and professionally serve our community on a daily basis.”

Hale is expected to be appear for his initial court appearance tomorrow, April 29, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Saldaña. At that time, the United States expects to ask the court to hold Hale in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings. A court date for a hearing on the government’s motion will be set for a later date.

The conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment along with a $4 million fine upon conviction. The gun charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment upon conviction, which must be served consecutive or upon completion of any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying drug offense as well as a $250,000 fine.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, Immigration Customs Enforcement-Office of Professional Responsibility and Customs Border Protection-Internal Affairs with the assistance and cooperation of the Laredo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Roberto F. Ramirez and James McAlister are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.