Fugitive ex-deputy who guarded load of cocaine possibly back in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The FBI is looking for an ex-deputy who never showed up for sentencing after pleading guilty to guarding a drug haul while in uniform.

Tomas Roque Espinoza, 43, has been a fugitive since 2013. Wednesday, the FBI renewed its call for the public's help in finding him.

"He's considered a fugitive of the law since 2013, and as of 2017, we have information that he may be back in the Houston area. So we're hoping your viewers can help us track him down," said Christina Garza of the FBI's Houston Office.

Espinoza's name surfaced during a human smuggling investigation, Garza said, but he pleaded guilty in December 2012 to guarding a load of cocaine while in his deputy uniform as it was moved across Houston. He signed all the documents agreeing to the plea and promised to come back for sentencing in September 2013. He never showed up.

The FBI believes he fled to Honduras, his birth country, but has since come back. His ex-wife and two sons are still in the Houston area. Seven years ago, they lived in the Mission Bend area of Harris County.

According to the FBI, he is likely using an alias. He may be working as a mechanic or an electrician and might be driving a dark-colored truck. Garza said he should be treated as a threat.

"We consider him dangerous because he's former law enforcement, because he has access to weapons and because he's a federal fugitive," she said.

Anyone with information is urged to call the FBI Houston Office at 713-693-5000 or go to tips.fbi.gov. Tips can be anonymous. The FBI is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to his capture.

In 2013, Roque Espinoza faced up to 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

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