SAN ANTONIO – A deputy accused of helping collect a drug debt for an inmate at the Bexar County Jail told the convicted drug dealer "she loves him and that she would be there for him," according to arrest affidavits.
Deputy Rita Alvarez, 31, was one of four people arrested Wednesday morning as part of an investigation by the a Narcotics/High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Unit investigation into a drug operation. Investigators said Alvarez approached a female inmate about a debt to Perez and helped collect some of it, while taking a cut herself.
The warrants also describe her participating in other errands for Perez, who for much of Alvarez's documented involvement was an inmate in the Bexar County Jail.
Now, the sheriff's office is looking how far back the corruption goes, and how widespread a problem it is.
"At this point I don't have any direct indication that there's anybody else involved. We will find out if that's the case," said BCSO Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Perez, who is currently on parole for a 2011 possession with intent to deliver conviction, was arrested back in April after police said they found hundreds of grams of black tar heroin, cocaine and hashish in a stash house he controlled. Jail records show he has been locked up since April 30.
However, the day before the stash house was raided, Alvarez, who is assigned to the jail annex, reportedly approached a female inmate about a debt she owed Perez.
Alvarez later agreed to collect money toward that debt and take a cut, according to arrest affidavits, which refer to numerous recorded phone calls.
The deputy received $1,000 toward the debt in a July 2 audio- and video-recorded meeting, according to the affidavits. She told Perez she put $500 in his inmate account and later told him she used part of her cut to buy fireworks for her kids.
The warrants also describe Alvarez and Perez talking about checking with the female inmate about her debt and helping arrange a drug deal.
At one point, Perez even asked for barbacoa tacos to be brought to him in the jail.
Throughout the pair's conversations, investigators wrote, "Alvarez tells Perez she loves him and that she would be there for him."
In a press conference addressing his deputy's role in Perez's alleged operation, Salazar said Alvarez was under surveillance for months by BCSO and San Antonio police. He said both his office's portion of the HITDA task force and the Public Integrity Unit had been working "hand in hand" with SAPD and the Bexar County District Attorney's Office "in activities which culminated in this morning's activity."
Salazar said he did not know if Perez and Alvarez's relationship predated her employment with the agency. He said his office did not want to interfere and jeopardize the narcotics investigation, but it can now begin digging on its own.
"What we're going to do is begin to work backwards, historically, and we want to find out when did they meet? How did they meet? What sort of interactions did they have outside of this facility?" Salazar said.
Her arrest was one of four in the investigation. Also arrested were Omar Garcia, 25; Victoria Sepeda, 33; and Salvador Robles, 34. Each was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.
Garcia also faces a firearm theft charge, and Alvarez is charged with illegal barter, expenditures, or investments.
Alvarez is on unpaid administrative leave, and Salazar said the disciplinary process would likely result in her termination.