UPDATE: Willie Gandara, Jr. To Plead Guilty To Drug Trafficking Charges In July [OPINION]
Former El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandara, Jr. is going to have his day in federal court next month to tell us all he is a drug trafficker.
When he was first arrested, this is what I wrote about Gandara, Jr.:
As you no doubt have heard, El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandara, Jr. was arrested late Wednesday night on federal drug charges. I’ve been checking out blogs and Facebook pages all day to see what people think about this little development.
Mike always makes fun of me for being such a politics nerd, but this arrest goes way, way, WAY beyond politics. It shows how corruption that takes root in a backwater town like El Paso, can spread all the way to Austin and beyond, but the comment I keep seeing on social media is, “Only in El Chuco! LOL!”
Willie Gandara, Jr. is accused of possession with intent to distribute 50 kgs of marijuana – that’s 110 POUNDS of pot to you and me – as well as using a home he owns for the distribution of that pot. The FBI, ICE, DEA, and IRS, and Customs and Border Protection were all in on the bust.
When the Feds come after you, you know you’re in trouble, especially when the IRS is in on things. Those are the guys who got Al Capone when no one else could.
The problem with Gandara Jr. being arrested isn’t just another blow to the credibility of elected officials in El Paso, it also shows just how easily Mexican drug cartels could slip into the US government. You don’t get 110 pounds of marijuana from your local drug dealer – you get it from the distributor, i.e., Mexican drug cartels. If Gandara Jr. did what he is accused of doing and had managed to get elected to the office of State Representative (he is running for the seat being vacated by Chente Quintanilla), he could have taken the influence of Mexican cartels with him to the Austin state house. And who knows, it’s conceivable that he could have been elected to the Congress or the Senate and been under the thumb of a cartel in Washington, D.C.
Pretty scary. And pretty scary that it’s being taken so lightly by so many people.
Now, he is going to stand up and tell a federal judge that he moved drugs through El Paso to Oklahoma and Chicago, as well as had a drug operation in one of his properties in Socorro.
I could have posted what I said in my post above from February 23 of this year today with pretty much no change. Sad to think there are some people who will always think that this is the way politics is destined to be conducted in our city and county. And it’s equally sad to think that on today’s Facebook pages on the news stations around town, people are still taking the thought of someone with serious drug cartel ties, not seriously.