MCALLEN, Texas – After a landslide victory at the polls, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra is now faced with the task of regaining the trust of the community following a series of scandals that rocked the department and ended with the previous sheriff locked up in a federal prison.
On Tuesday night Hidalgo County voters overwhelmingly elected Guerra over Republican Al Perez, unofficial counts show. Guerra had been serving as interim sheriff since shortly his predecessor Lupe Trevino resigned after 14 years in office.
Trevino’s resignation came following a series of scandals starting with a drug unit of which Trevino’s son was a member that had gone rogue and begun stealing drugs and eventually ended with the former sheriff pleading guilty to money laundering charges for taking cash from a Gulf Cartel drug lord. The scandal led to more than a dozen law enforcement officials including the sheriff, a commander, the chief of staff and a democratic justice of the peace being charged and some convicted of their alleged involvement in multiple conspiracies.
Guerra, who began his law enforcement career in 1996 and most recently had served as a constable was nominated and appointed to take over the department and clean up the cloud of corruption that had been left behind.
“At the very beginning there was a lot of stress,” Guerra said during an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas. “The sheer responsibility of running the 7th largest county in Texas and being tasked with the safety of the 800,000 individuals who make up our community can feel like a heavy weight on one’s shoulders. Now that stress has begun to subside, we have implemented changes in this department to fix the many wrongs and have strengthened our partnerships with our state and federal law enforcement partners.”
Guerra brought in a Chief Deputy and additional commanders but decided to keep some of the previous members of the command staff in place. In order to remove the perception of politics from the hiring process, Guerra said he has left the decision entirely to his staff and is not involved in the hiring process.
“We kept some people but we have raised the bar,” Guerra said. “Those individuals that are not able to meet the standards expected of them will end up leaving this department.”
Guerra has also takes his deputies with taking to social media to increase public engagement and has even begun a social media campaign that features a fugitive’s profile and deputies answer to the posts and messages. The program has already led to various arrests.
When asked about the cloud of corruption that the previous scandals had left behind Guerra responded, “That is one of the main goals that I will be focusing on. As long as I am in this office I am going to work to regain and keep the community’s trust. I am all for transparency and openness and my policies will show that.”