Lupe Trevino, the former sheriff of Hidalgo County in south Texas, pled guilty to money laundering on April 14, according to local reports. The plea came only 17 days after Trevino stepped down from his position, Breitbart Texas has learned.
Trevino, with the help of his Chief of Staff Maria Patricia Medina, attempted to cover up campaign contributions paid in cash by a convicted drug trafficker. The total amount of contributions was reportedly between $70,000 and $120,000, according to The McAllen Monitor.
A criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas states that Trevino knowingly conducted a “financial transaction that affected interstate and foreign commerce which involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is, the distribution of controlled substances.” It further alleges that Trevino “knew that the property or currency involved represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.”
Breitbart Texas reported that Medina faces up to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to concealing the shady election contributions, which were allegedly made in cash.
A report by The McAllen Monitor claims that the drug dealer in question is Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez. On several occasions, Gonzalez reportedly delivered cash contributions to former Cmdr. Jose “Joe” Padilla, Trevino’s second in command. That money was allegedly used to finance Trevino’s re-election campaign.
Breitbart Texas’ Contributing Editor Sylvia Longmire said this is not the first time local officials have gotten involved in the activities of cartels and other drug-running organizations.
“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,” she said.
A spokesperson from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Breitbart Texas that J.E. “Eddie” Guerra took Trevino’s place and is now the Interim Sheriff. Guerra publicly spoke about the corruption surrounding his predecessor. He reportedly told Channel 5 News, “They resigned for a reason and now we know why they resigned.”
Trevino’s department has been the subject of scrutiny since January 2013 when members of its drug task force called the Panama Unit were accused of possessing and distributing marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. Trevino’s son, Jonathan Trevino, was a member of the unit along with nine other individuals.
A 2013 criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas states, “In August 2012…members of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Officer were involved in the distribution of narcotics.”
The document outlines several occasions when members of the Panama Unit were paid thousands of dollars to protect and escort traveling vehicles that were full of narcotics.
Until recently, Lupe Trevino claimed he had no knowledge of the Panama Unit’s scheme as it took place. The McAllen Monitor reported that throughout the investigation, the sheriff “maintained that he knew nothing about the actions of members of his agency, comparing himself to a person whose spouse was cheating on him – and saying he was the last to know about the criminal actions.”
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