The three were bonded out of the jail and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who took them to Dallas. Then, after consulting the State Department about their visas, they were released. As it happens, Villarreal is the former Secretary Executive of the Tax Administration Service in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. Oh, and he is suspected of embezzling millions of dollars in phony government bank loans.
An unusual arrest and an even more unusual release has local and federal authorities scratching their heads.
How did a suspected government embezzler from Mexico get arrested, and then turned loose…by the US government?
It is a case that ultimately became an international incident, and leaves Homeland Security, the State Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement with egg on their faces.
And it all began with a missing license plate.
A brand new Mercedes SUV was stopped by Smith County Sheriff’s deputies last week because it was missing a front plate.
On board were three adults, all Mexican nationals, two children, a bag containing roughly $67,000 in cash and a shotgun.
The adults were Hector Villarreal, his wife, Maria Botello and Oswaldo Coronado.
After the traffic stop, the three were taken to the Smith County Jail. Because they were Mexican nationals, the federal authorities were contacted. That’s when it got interesting.