Ric Tamez moved back home to McAllen in the early 1980s after working for Kroger in Corpus Christi. He soon realized he should have secured a job before returning.
“I was young and stupid, and before long, I was desperate,” Tamez said.
He moved back in with his parents with only $200 to his name when he received a job offer to work as a teller at Texas State Bank. That job changed the course of his life, but not because it launched a career in banking.
“Every other Friday, a customer named Pat Guerrero came to the bank to cash her check,” Tamez said.
Guerrero worked as a jailer for the McAllen Police Department. She suggested Tamez apply for a job at the police department as he handled her deposit.
“I owe my whole career to her,” he said. Dec. 1, 1984 is when Tamez began working at McAllen PD.
“I immediately connected with the job of a police officer,” he said.
Joining the Force
Alex Longoria, the police chief at the time, started a Reserve Police Academy. Tamez joined the Academy in spring 1985. In November, Tamez joined the fifth McAllen Police Academy, graduating on Valentine’s Day in 1986. After two years on patrol, Tamez joined the PD’s Criminal Investigation Division. He reached his next goal four years later when he was offered the role of investigator in the Major Crimes Unit.
“I felt the elite investigators were in this unit,” he said.
Tamez cites police Captain Rolando Torres for seeing potential in him and the drive that was evident for police work. Torres assigned Tamez to serve as lead investigator when his fellow McAllen police officer, Rey Lopez, was shot and killed at the McAllen Tourist Center on South 10th Street while working off-duty security.
“Our team brought all of the people involved to justice,” Tamez said, pausing for a moment as he recalled the magnitude of the case. “It was so close to home. It was a very emotional time, and we never had a chance to mourn.”
Tamez served as lead investigator on another high-profile case, this one in early 1998. Two men had shot a security guard at South Texas Community College as students registered for classes. Tamez and his team tracked down both primary suspects. One, a Mexican national, confessed to the crime but would not return to Texas to testify against the shooter, a U.S. citizen, because he knew he, too, would be charged.
In 2000, Tamez decided to transfer to the Burglary Unit. Here, he found working surveillance and stake-outs both challenging and fun. His career ended in Dec. 2001 when Chief Longoria, a key mentor, passed away after a valiant fight with melanoma. Tamez decided it was time for a change.
Tamez resigned from the police department and entered the world of private investigation, a lucrative yet exhausting job. He would eventually open RGV SpyTek near 10th and Nolana Avenue in McAllen. The business opened in late 2008 and Jaime Martin, a spy shop expert from Austin, helped him get started during challenging economic times.
“I had been so busy that I didn’t know there was a recession,” he said.
Two years later, to accommodate the growth in sales, Tamez moved RGV SpyTek to its current location on north 23rd Street as his business grew over the years. The shop’s most sought-after items, Tamez said, involve security and GPS trackers.
“We have all kinds of security cameras, spy cameras, and other devices to keep individuals and their families safe,” Tamez said. “I think we all just have a knack for spying.”
RGV SpyTek is a spy’s paradise, with non-lethal tasers, stun guns, pepper spray, a large variety of popular knives and high-intensity LED flashlights. Other popular items include Bluetooth sunglasses, doorbells with remote access and audio recording devices.
Though spying can be thrilling, Tamez warned that people must remember there are legal parameters. He and his staff inform their customers of the moral and ethical obligations in how they use the devices purchased at SpyTek.