Man likely to be deported following sentencing

Published 6:45 am Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A 28-year-old Austin man is likely to be deported after being sentenced on a felony forgery charge Monday in Mower County court.

Jose Juan Cordova received a 366-day local jail term, stayed three years. As part of the sentence, he is also required to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which handles U.S. deportation cases.

Cordova pleaded guilty to forgery last month.

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Charges were originally filed in the case after a large drug bust in Austin in February. According to a criminal complaint, the bust occurred Feb. 23 after an early morning traffic stop that same day. The stop was initiated because an Austin officer confronted a parked vehicle outside the Center Court Apartments on 25th Street Southwest that had revoked plates.

The officer confronted two people inside the vehicle, later identified as Jose Guadalupe Garcia-Diaz, 33, and Gabriela Cordova Garcia, 27. The cop also noticed several open bottles of alcohol inside and asked the driver, Garcia-Diaz, to exit the vehicle.

Garcia-Diaz refused and eventually had to be forcibly removed from the car. He was patted down, at which point the cop found 14 grams of methamphetamine in several bags in Garcia-Diaz’s pockets.

Garcia also resisted arrest, and a second officer had to use a chemical irritant spray to get her to exit the vehicle. When she was handcuffed, the cop searched her bag, which was on the floor of the car. Inside, he found 50 grams of meth, four grams of cocaine and roughly $23,000 in cash, the complaint states.

The suspects were taken to jail for questioning. The two identified themselves as Valerie Ann Garcia and Roberto Herrerra, and they said they were married. A detective, who recognized the vehicle they were in from an ongoing investigation, also recognized the two names as aliases.

Based on that information, a search of the apartment on 25th Street was conducted at around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. Three separate units were searched, the first of which appeared to belong to the couple detained during the traffic stop. The room was found in a state of disarray, with a number of meth pipes and old containers found scattered throughout, the complaint states.

In a nearby unit, four adults and two children were found, one of whom was Cordova, who was later charged with perjury for lying on an I-9 document that identified him as Miguel Leal. Cordova said he had worked under the Leal name at Quality Pork Processors in Austin. He also said he was not involved with drug trafficking, though he acknowledged his sister was, the complaint states.

The third apartment unit was found occupied by two adults and one child. Inside, authorities found a sock under a bed containing nearly $18,000. A trace amount of meth and an additional $2,300 cash were also found, the complaint states.

The room belonged to Andres Cordova-Lopez, 25, who told authorities that he didn’t know who the cash belonged to.

Those at the apartment complex said they believed Garcia was involved in drug trafficking.

She pleaded not guilty to all charges against her in March and awaits a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday.

Garcia-Diaz was sentenced on April 16 to 48 months in prison on a second-degree felony drug charge. As part of a plea agreement, a felony forgery charge was dismissed prior to sentencing.

Cordova-Lopez was sentenced on April 1 on a felony forgery charge and awaits a likely deportation.