The sheriff of a county known to be the Gulf Cartel’s main corridor into Texas recently spoke out against more border security investments. The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office is also working to shake the memory of its former sheriff, commander, narcotics unit, and crime stoppers program being tied to Mexican cartel-linked drug traffickers.
In a recent article by the Texas Observer, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra spoke out against spending billions of dollars for a border wall or fence, claiming it would do little to alleviate human or drug smuggling.
“First of all, we already have one physical barrier, that’s the Rio Grande. To cross it, [migrants] use a raft. To cross a 22-foot-high fence, they’ll use a ladder,” Guerra is quoted by the outlet. Neither the article nor Guerra mention that the proposal also calls for more technology, manpower, roads, and other infrastructure.
While the article tries to paint a picture of a safe border area with a low crime rate, the publication omits the fact that the statistics presented by Guerra are only for the rural parts of the county and do not include figures from the 20 municipal police jurisdictions. While better-funded cities like McAllen have a low crime rate, smaller towns like Weslaco and La Joya show opposite trends.
The article also makes no mention of the dark history that follows the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office itself. Since taking command, Guerra is working to improve the public’s perception of his agency. The image was severely tarnished by his predecessor Guadalupe “Lupe” Trevino, who just finished a five-year prison sentence for taking campaign money from a Gulf Cartel-linked drug lord living in the county. Trevino’s right-hand man, former Commander Jose Padilla, also spent time in prison on bribery charges involving cartel funds. Around the time of Trevino’s downfall, the Panama Unit–an entire street-level narcotics task force made up of nine Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies and the sheriff’s son–also went down for escorting drug loads and selling some of the protected cargo. Former Hidalgo County Crime Stoppers program coordinator James Flores also went to prison for helping stage drug raids and busts.
Before Trevino, Brigido “Brig” Marmolejo, another Hidalgo County Sheriff, also went to prison in 1994 for taking money from a Mexican drug lord. According to prosecutors, Marmolejo took a monthly $5,000 bribe and additional sums from Homero Beltran Aguirre. The money was meant to earn preferential treatment for Beltran Aguirre, who at the time was housed at the Hidalgo County Jail. Marmolejo would let Beltran Aguirre use his office for conjugal visits with various women.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Breitbart Border/Cartel Chronicles. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Border/Cartel Chronicles. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.