Progreso Policeman accused of Raping Illegal Immigrants inside a municipal jail.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies took 24-year-old Mathew Sepulveda, a police officer in Progreso, before a local justice of the peace who formally charged him with one count of sexual assault and one count of violating the civil rights of a person in custody, jail booking information revealed. The judge set bond at $225,000. Progreso is immediately north of the border from Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas.
Sepulveda’s arrest follows a joint investigation between the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. The case was first reported by Dave Hendricks with The Progress Times.
According to the arrest affidavit, Sepulveda pulled over a vehicle on June 28 and arrested the driver, an adult male living in the country illegally. At the jail, Sepulveda allegedly told the man that he had “to do something” or he could not be released. The victim, fearing deportation, went with the officer to an adjacent room where Sepulveda allegedly performed oral sex on him. When the victim’s relatives arrived at the police station to pay any citation needed for his release, the officer told the man that he was free to go. The victim and his family called the sheriff’s office to report the sexual assault.
According to information provided by the sheriff’s office, investigators began an “official oppression” investigation at the Progreso Police station and asked the FBI for assistance.
Sepulveda worked at the Hidalgo County jail — where he served as a detention sergeant — before joining the Progreso Police Department.
He resigned from the Sheriff’s Office amid an internal investigation. After he resigned, the Sheriff’s Office investigated an allegation that Sepulveda and a detention corporal provided drugs to inmates. The Sheriff’s Office demoted the corporal for related misconduct but didn’t interview Sepulveda about the allegations.
“On September 12, 2018, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office initiated an internal investigation on Detention Sergeant Matthew Sepulveda based on a report of officer misconduct, specifically that Sgt. Sepulveda used his department issued camera to record a supervisory counseling without the consent of all parties involved,” according to a copy of the internal investigation released under the Texas Public Information Act. “The internal investigation produced a preponderance of evidence to prove an incident of officer misconduct occurred. However, prior to Sgt. Sepulveda being served with the Internal Investigation notification, he resigned.” – Chief Deputy Mario Lopez
This incident comes after a scandal in March when a Sgt with the tiny force was involved in narcotics trafficking. A former Progreso police sergeant was convicted of providing information to drug trafficking organizations. Giovanni Hernandez, 45, went down in an undercover operation where an informant solicited his assistance in moving dope thrown the town. Hernandez ended up scouting for the drug traffickers to help allow a vehicle he thought was loaded with cocaine make its way through the city. He was found guilty of two counts of aiding and abetting the attempt to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He’s looking at a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.