N.O. jury convicts former Houston cop in Mexican cartel drug conspiracy

A federal jury in New Orleans on Friday convicted a former Houston police officer of supplying a Mexican drug cartel with high-powered weapons and other equipment that helped the narcotraffickers to smuggle massive amounts of cocaine into Terrebonne Parish and many other communities across the country.

The officer, Noe Juarez, 47, was convicted of conspiring with members of Los Zetas, a violent crime syndicate, to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced April 20 by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance.

“A once proud member of the Houston Police Department, Noe Juarez breached his oath to protect and serve by providing weapons and other resources to known violent drug traffickers,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said in a statement. “Today’s guilty verdict ensures that Juarez will now face a lengthy jail sentence for his crimes.”

During a weeklong trial, jurors heard evidence that Juarez brazenly exploited his position for personal gain, often committing crimes even as he wore his Houston Police Department uniform. Prosecutors said he also had been involved in other drug conspiracies in Texas.

The case stemmed from an investigation federal authorities launched into the brothers Efrain and Sergio Grimaldo, convicted traffickers who headed a drug distribution cell in Monterrey, Mexico, and had ties to Houma in Terrebonne Parish.

“Juarez played a pivotal role by providing law enforcement-sensitive information, including running license plates and sharing police tactics and activities with conspirators,” Polite said. “Juarez further supplied vehicles, body armor and semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles to the conspirators, some of which ended up among senior cartel leaders in Mexico.”

Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.

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