SAN DIEGO – Certain factors must be in order when a criminal case is about to go before a judge or jury. If those factors are not in place charges against individuals may be dropped.

Such is the case that involves a couple from Ramirez, a small town in Duval County, who were arrested in July 2018 after a joint operation by law enforcement. 

Recently, the 229th District Attorney’s Office dropped several charges against Roberto Leo Jr. and Irene Alvarez. The couple along with another individual had been arrested and booked into the Duval County jail in July of 2018. They had been charged with smuggling of persons, unlawful restraint, engaging in organized criminal activity and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The charges stemmed from a joint investigation that was conducted in Ramirez, a small town in Duval County. The investigation was between the Duval County Sheriff’s Task Force, Duval Sheriff’s Office, Hebbronville Border Patrol, Department of Public Safety Ranger Division and George West police executed the warrant at the Leo’s residence.

Recently, Leo and Alvarez received official documentation form the Duval County Justice of the Peace precinct 2 judge that dismissed all charges against them.

According to Kelli Palmarozzi, Assistant District Attorney, the charges being dropped against Leo and Alvarez does not mean they are innocent.

“The state exercised its prosecutional discretion and did not purse with charges against this individual,” was written in the official papers the couple received for all charges filed.

This statement meant that witnesses, who in the case were undocumented immigrants, could not be found or brought back to testify in the case, according to Palmarozzi.

In order to take this case before the judge and possible jury, the prosecution needed the witnesses. Because the undocumented immigrants would cost Duval County taxpayers money if they sat in jail, they were turned over to the federal government agents. The federal agents deported the witnesses in this case and are now unavailable for any trial related to this case.

District Attorney Omar Escobar, says this is common in a majority of cases that involve undocumented immigrants.