EL PASO, TX — A critical opponent of drug law reform in Texas has been indicted on charges of trafficking 50 kilograms of marijuana and money laundering.
El Paso County Commissioner Guillermo “Willie” Gandara Jr., 37, who is currently a Democratic candidate for the Texas legislature, along with Juan Canales, 50, were arrested late Wednesday night following a multi-agency investigation that included the DEA and FBI.
A federal grand jury indictment charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment also charges Gandara with three counts of maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana.
The indictment alleges that from November 2010 until the present, the Gandara and Canales conspired to possess and distribute over 50 kilograms of marijuana using property owned by Gandara in El Paso County.
“Elected officials who engage in drug trafficking violate the public trust,” Joseph M. Arabit, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division, said in a statement.
“As this lengthy investigation attests, DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding drug traffickers accountable for their illegal activity, regardless of their position, and we will not allow the actions of a few to tarnish the honorable work that other government officials perform each day. The residents of El Paso County deserve no less.”
Throughout his political career, Gandara has taken a hard-line anti-drug stance. In September, he told the El Paso Times he thought drug legalization was a bad idea for the country.
“Legalizing drugs is the coward practice of combating cartels, it is an insult to our men and women in law enforcement, and the laziest form of parenting our children and youth about the effects of drugs,” he said.