Texas Democratic Justice of the Peace Accused of Taking Bribes

Texas Democratic Justice of the Peace Accused of Taking Bribes

MCALLEN, Texas — A former Justice of the Peace in a Texas border county of Hidalgo, found himself on the other side of the law following his indictment on bribery and organized criminal activity charges.

Ismael “Melo” Ochoa went before 370th State District Judge Noe Gonzalez who formally charged him with two counts of bribery, one count of money laundering and one count of organized criminal activity, court officials said. 

The case against Ochoa stems from allegations of bond rigging and judicial favors that surfaced during the widely publicized Panama Unit Scandal. The scandal dealt with a narcotics task force that went rogue and the investigation into it ended up leading to the arrest of former border county sheriff Lupe Treviño for taking cash bribes from Gulf Cartel drug boss Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez who had set up his base of operations in Weslaco.

During the hearings in that case, witness testimony pointed to a justice of the peace rigging bonds and doing favors for Gonzalez. Since that trial, law enforcement and court officials have told Breitbart Texas that Ochoa began to cooperate with investigators about a web of judicial corruption in Hidalgo County. 

Ochoa had been a long time democratic candidate in Hidalgo County and retired in earlier this month when he resigned.

Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter @ildefonsoortiz

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