40-year-old Maria Patricia Medina, the former chief of staff for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, pled guilty to covering up a felony related to elections in her district. As a result she could spend up to three years in prison and a hefty fine.
More specifically, reports state that Medina attempted to cover up a trail of money given to former Sheriff Lupe Trevino’s election campaign by an alleged drug trafficker. Medina reportedly covered up records of the donations, which were given in cash from 2011-2012.
Breitbart Texas’ Contributing Editor Sylvia Longmire considers the episode to be representative of a larger issue involving public officials getting wrapped up in a culture of greed fueled by drug cartels.
“In a place like south Texas that is economically disadvantaged in many areas, it’s increasingly difficult for some public officials to turn away from the large amounts of money involved in the drug business,” Longmire said. “It’s tragic to see a border agency tainted this way, but good that the transparency of the investigation is shining a spotlight on the lesser known impacts of the drug war in our border communities.”
A spokesperson from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Breitbart Texas that Sheriff Lupe Trevino resigned, but refused to answer further questions at this time. KRGV reported that Trevino stepped down on March 28 and was not charged with a crime.
County records confirm that J.E. “Eddie” Guerra took Trevino’s place and is now the Interim Sheriff. Reacting to Medina’s guilty plea, Guerra told Channel 5 News, “They resigned for a reason and now we know why they resigned…I will tell the citizens of Hidalgo County, I’ve only been on the job for a week, but there is [sic] a lot of good men and women working for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.”
The recent incident involving Medina is only the most recent in a string of events involving corruption and town officials.
In early April, Breitbart Texas reported on a bribery case in Progreso, Texas, involving Mayor Omar Leonel Vela. Vela, along with his brother Michael Vela, President of the Progreso Independent School District (PISD), and his father Jose Guadalupe Vela Jr., admitted to accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from contractors bidding to do work for the district.
The Velas were able to carry out their scheme, undetected, for many consecutive years due to the power they collectively held in local government. A plea agreement obtained by Breitbart Texas said, “The Velas were able to extract bribes from contractors as a result of their political control of Progreso and PISD… In addition, Jose Vela controlled the PISD School Board by rewarding with bribe money board members who voted as he directed.”
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