WESLACO, RGV – A Rio Grande Guardian story from May 2012 which reported then-Hidalgo County Sheriff candidate Geovani Hernandez saying the region was “infested with drug cartel members” has been picked up by The Washington Post and CNN.
The Post story is headlined: “A Texas cop took a side gig with drug cartels, feds say.” The CNN story is headlined: “Cop accused of drug trafficking tried to get money to run for office, officials say.”
Hernandez a former police chief for La Joya and a former sergeant with the Progreso Police Department, agreed to protect law enforcement informants posing as drug traffickers to earn money to mount a political campaign, authorities have said.
The 43-year-old has been charged with three federal offenses in an investigation dubbed Operation Blue Shame and placed in jail under a $100,000 bond. He has been charged with attempt to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and aiding and abetting.
The Rio Grande Guardian reported in May 2012 on a “lively” candidate forum between then-Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño and challenger Hernandez. The debate, hosted by Hidalgo County Texas Democratic Women, drew a crowd of more than 200 people at the Palm Aire hotel in Weslaco. It was the first time Treviño and Hernandez had gone head to head at a political forum.
The drug war chaos on the Mexican side of the border had spilled into the Rio Grande Valley and now the region was “infested with drug cartel members,” Hernandez said during the debate, according to the Rio Grande Guardian report.
“We need to protect our families. What happens here affects the rest of the United States of America. I have worked terrorism, I have worked borders before. I do not protect drug dealers,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez lost the election. Treviño abruptly resigned from office in March 2014 and pleaded guilty back a month later to a federal money laundering charge. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
The Washington Post story leads with the May 2012 candidate forum. It says the words Hernandez used at the event “are now swinging back around on the 43-year-old.” The story said Hernandez “was particularly sensitive to cartel activity in Hidalgo County because he was personally involved, according to federal law enforcement officials.”
CNN said that in May, an informant met with Hernandez to discuss an “illegal business venture,” at which time the officer claimed to be friends with a “plaza boss” in the Gulf Cartel in Mexico, CNN reports, citing a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in McAllen. Hernandez said, “he needed money for his campaign for Hidalgo County constable,” the document states.