Arrested South Texas officer wants bail lowered

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Associated Press

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

MCALLEN, Texas (AP) — A former South Texas sheriff's office commander arrested on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges remains jailed because he can't afford the full amount of his bail or find a co-signer.

The Monitor in McAllen reports (http://bit.ly/1aopmdI ) that Jose "Joe" Padilla has the $5,000 cash deposit required for his release.

A motion file by Padilla's attorney, Joe Cisneros, says he hasn't been able to find a bond company or any person that agrees to sign off on his bond and pay the $100,000 in case he flees.

Padilla was formerly second-in-command at the Hidalgo County Sheriff's office. He says he does not have enough cash or properties to back the $100,000 bond.

Court records show he has houses in South Texas worth more than $330,000 but owes almost $240,000 in mortgage, leaving him with about $97,500 in equity.

Padilla's 24-year police career ended after he was arrested Christmas Eve following an indictment linked him to a Weslaco-based drug trafficking organization.

He invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not testify during the drug conspiracy trial of former sheriff's Deputy Jorge Garza. Convicted drug traffickers Fernando Guerra Sr. and James Phil Flores — also a former deputy — had mentioned Padilla's name in connection with the case.

Garza was a member of the now-defunct Panama Unit, formed by sheriff's deputies and Mission, Texas, police officers. Garza is accused of helping Guerra Sr. steal drugs from drug trafficking organizations. Garza would conduct fake traffic stops, so the drug traffickers would think the drugs were seized when in fact they were resold.

Nine other lawmen have been convicted on drug charges, including Jonathan Trevino the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino.

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