Local News

Feds to Probe Case of Defendant Posed in Sombrero

Posted May 11, 2007 7:50 p.m. EDT

— The Department of Justice is investigating claims that a federal agent asked a Hispanic suspect to pose for a picture in a sombrero, U.S. Attorney George Holding said Friday.

Authorities arrested Jorge Hernandez-Villalvazo on drug charges two years ago. In recent pretrial hearings, a picture surfaced showing Villalvazo posing with the sombrero and a Mexican flag.

The picture, which reportedly was taken by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent in Raleigh, played a role in a plea deal and Villalvazo being released from jail.

"I was troubled to read ... of allegations of inappropriate treatment of a Hispanic defendant under investigation by agents of the DEA," Holding said in a statement. "Regardless of what crime an individual may have committed, all are entitled to humane and respectful treatment by the criminal justice system."