The now former commander of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department– arrested on drug trafficking charges and money laundering– will be out on bond on Monday.
Jose “Joe” Padilla was presented in court Friday morning where Judge Dorina Ramos formally charged him with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to launder money. He is one of several indicted including Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez, who faces similar charges. All the defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’.
It is believed that Padilla facilitated the distribution of narcotics under Gonzalez’s produce company “T&F”. These are accusations the sheriff laments.
“I do consider him a friend. Joe Padilla has always been a very loyal employee and has always been very good at what he does,” said Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe Trevino.
For Sheriff Trevino, the decision to fire his commander and friend was for the integrity of his agency.
“Nothing changes for us,” said Sheriff Trevino. “We’re still the same law enforcement agency, we are still focused on lowering the crime rate, and we’re focused on serving our constituents and delivering our police services that we can.”
Sheriff Treviño has seen his department plagued with corruption allegations over the last year with members of the now debunked anti-narcotics task force, the Panama Unit, pleading guilty to criminal charges– including his son Jonathan.
“We have taken anti-corruption measures as soon as the Panama Unit scandal erupted and we had already taken some before that, we just took it to a different level,” said Sheriff Trevino.
We asked the sheriff if he was concerned federal agents would be knocking on his door.
“They can knock on my door all they want,” said Sheriff Trevino. “I’m telling you that I’m not complicit in any criminal activity whatsoever and the question alone offends me because why would I have to do that?
I mean these are 40 years of reputation in this community and my reputation among the law enforcement agencies is one in the same: that I’m an honest, straight-shooting lawman.”
Even though he says a political campaign is not on his mind right now, he does wish to continue leading the sheriff’s office.
“The true character of a person is always shown when he is knocked down and he is able to get up and go again, and I have shown my true character,” said Sheriff Trevino.
A trial date has not been set for Padilla yet, but meanwhile the judge ordered him to remain under house supervision and to stay away from any police force including the sheriff’s department. He will be released on Monday after posting a bond of $100,000.