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Texas Sheriff’s Official|Gets 11 Years in Prison

McALLEN, Texas (CN) - A former Hidalgo County Sheriff's criminal investigator was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for conspiring to sell 161 kilos of marijuana found at a crime scene.

Heriberto Diaz, 41, of San Juan, was convicted on Oct. 20, 2011 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, the FBI said in a statement announcing his sentence.

Hidalgo County, whose seat is Edinburg and principal town is McAllen, is the second-most southerly county along the Rio Grande in Texas, just west of Cameron County, whose seat is Brownville.

According to testimony from the 3-day trial, Diaz met his partner and sheriff's investigator Omar Salazar at a convenience store in Mission, Texas, where Diaz told Salazar that he had received a tip that marijuana was being stored at a nearby home. After Diaz threatened the resident with arrest, Diaz and Salazar got consent to search and discovered 161 kilograms of marijuana.

Salazar testified that he contacted Joel Duncan to help remove the drugs. A Mission police officer took Duncan and his son, Jorge Duncan, into custody after seeing them take the drugs from the residence, but Salazar talked the officer into releasing them by saying they were confidential informants assisting in a narcotics investigation.

According to testimony, Diaz lied on numerous official reports to disguise the illegal activity.

Salazar and Joel Duncan were also charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. They are scheduled to be sentenced on May 21.

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