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NPR: RGV Entrenched In Corruption

In an article released today, NPR’s John Burnett and Marisa Penazola detail the recent history of public official corruption in the RGV and the means by which the federal and state authorities are using to try to eradicate it.

But federal authorities say “the Valley” is steeped in corruption of every stripe: drug smuggling, vote stealing, courthouse bribery, under-the-table payoffs and health care fraud. Late last year, the feds launched the Rio Grande Valley Public Corruption Task Force to clean up South Texas.


None of this really comes as a surprise to most of us who live here, however, every time someone lays some tangible statistics on how bad a situation actually is, you’re bound to raise an eyebrow or two:

The Justice Department created its newest anti-corruption task force as a result of the continuing numbers of big and little fish getting nabbed down on the border. In 2013, more public officials were convicted of federal crimes in South Texas — 83 of them — than in any other region of the country. In the past two decades, no fewer than five sheriffs have been busted for corruption. And from 2000 to 2013, 13 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents went to prison.


83!! 83 public officials. We knew it was bad…but this is a rate of 2 public officials arrested EVERY WEEK.

“The public’s perception is that the problem is inordinately grave and that it is worse here than other places,” says FBI supervisory special agent Rock Stone. “We’re being very vocal and very public about the fact that [public corruption] is wrong, it is immoral, and you’re betraying the public’s trust…And we’re going to pursue all of these people: school board, city, county, state, judicial, executive, legislative. We’re going to pursue them and we’re going to lock them up,” Stone says.


The best part about this article is that a federal agent named Rock Stone actually exists. If Stallone would ever be trusted with producing a movie on his own, the main character would be Rock Stone. It would be written in my blog and directed by Stallone and win ALL the Oscars and earn ALL the money, said Stallone.

As we’ve seen in the last year or so, we know that Stone’s not fucking around with charges and arrests made in Progreso, in a bizarre case in Rio Grande City, and, of course, infamously in Hidalgo County.

NPR actually spoke to Jonathan Treviño, convicted ex-narc and son of former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño who was also arrested himself on separate bribery charges:

“I was a cop who went drug dealer. That’s what it is,” says Jonathan Treviño, a former police narcotics squad leader who is serving 17 years in a federal penitentiary. Last year, his entire unit went to prison for seizing dope and selling it back to traffickers in Hidalgo County. “No one forced us. No one held a gun to our heads. No one threatened the families, saying, ‘You better participate in illegal activity.’ No, we all decided to abuse our position,” he said in an interview inside the prison.


We the RGV, ladies and gentlemen, are the new Cook County.

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