A reader points me to another Texas drug war scandal involving bad border cops in addition to the two I mentioned earlier - the Deputy Commander of the Laredo Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force and an accomplice were indicted today for protecting drug traffickers and selling confidential police information. Here's AP's initial coverage. According to the Department of Justice press release:
The Deputy Commander of the Laredo Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force, Julio Alfonso Lopez, 45, and an alleged accomplice, Meliton Valadez, 32, both of Zapata, Texas, have been indicted for extorting money from drug traffickers to provide protection from law enforcement. United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced the unsealing of the 10 count indictment, returned under seal on Wednesday, April 13, 2006, today following the arrest of both men. ...Geez - I've complained before about the bevy of bad cops in Nuevo Laredo, but obviously we're not immune on this side of the border, either. Think how many officer-hours were wasted over the years whenever the deputy commander used his position to direct patrols away from traffickers. Drug runners profit and the taxpayers foot the bill for this kind of expensive sham.
Lopez and Valadez are accused in Count One of the indictment of conspiring with each other and others, beginning in July 2005, to extort money from drug traffickers in exchange for Lopez using his position as Deputy Commander of the Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force to insure the undetected passage of the drug traffickers and their drug shipments through Zapata. ...
The indictment also alleges Lopez and Valadez disclosed information to drug traffickers that they represented to be sensitive law enforcement information; and provided a storage place to store the trafficker’s cocaine. Lopez allegedly used his authority and position to direct task force officers away from areas where the traffickers and their illicit loads were located, and failed to make arrests or seize the contraband or the drug proceeds.
A conviction for any of these offenses (18 U.S.C. § 1951) carries a maximum penalty of twenty (20) years in federal prison, without parole, and a $250,000 fine. ...
The indictment is the result of the investigative efforts of agents of the Laredo Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Kinchen.
This is one of the drug task forces that until March 31 was funded through the federal Byrne Justice Assistance program before Gov. Perry took away their money. Perry's decision to de-fund the task forces came just in the nick of time, it seems. If they continued, they were obviously poised to bring down even more scandal and disapprobation on our state.