Seven former members of a South Texas police department are now facing serious charges of funneling drugs for profit. The cops, all former Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Deputies, are facing federal drug and conspiracy charges.
According to the Associated Press, the officers worked on a task force that targeted drug trafficking within the community. In other words, their main duty was to enforce drug laws, not make a profit off of them. But, being close to the action, the officers allegedly saw an opportunity for fast money.
The officers’ arrests are related to the arrests of drug trafficking ring leaders Fernando Guerra Sr. and Fernando Guerra Jr. The Guerra ring in essence employed officers to steal drugs from the competition. The Guerras would allegedly set up a drug buy between themselves and another faction. The officers would bust the other guys after the deal and confiscate the drugs. But the officers would only charge the drug dealers with possessing part of the drugs, keeping the rest to give back to the Guerras.
In the latest round of indictments, 3 former deputies have been charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. While the earlier charged deputies have already resigned, the Sheriff has asked for the resignation of these latest three as well.
The other four task force members were charged in December and their case alleges they “used their positions as law enforcement personnel to escort and protect loads of narcotics.”
While it isn’t common for officers to do completely illegal things on the job, it is hardly unheard of either. And when the officers operate within the underbelly of the local drug trade, sometimes the lure of fast money seems risk-free. After all, if you are the law enforcement, who will enforce the law against you?
In this case, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement received a tip about two of the drug task force members in August of last year, leading to the investigation that went much deeper.
Cops are human. Sure, they make mistakes or have lapses of judgment. But, when they are the ones who lawfully carry weapons and badges, and they have the power to remove (albeit temporarily) your right to come and go, they should be held to a higher standard. Crooked cops are the lowest of the low.