America’s Dirtiest Cops: Cash, Cocaine, Corruption on the Texas Border
For the past year, Treviño and the Panama Unit had been operating one of the most efficient drug-robbery rings in Texas, taking money from some dealers and traffickers while using their police weapons and police cars to rob others. “These guys were outlaws,” one former Hidalgo County deputy says. Adds another, “They were running around like that movie Training Day.” They started off stealing ounces of weed and eventually stole so much they attracted the attention of the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security and the Texas Rangers, not to mention at least one revenge-seeking gang.
The Panama Unit’s crimes were a black eye on border law enforcement - especially the majority of officers who are honest cops. The case also raised questions about who is being enlisted and what resources are being devoted to fighting the nation’s drug war. Until it was exposed, the unit was seen as an example of what local drug enforcement was doing right. Most incredibly, its crimes were all happening on the watch of one of the most powerful lawmen in Texas and one of the U.S. government’s most trusted border advisers: the popular Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, a.k.a. Jonathan’s father.
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Although no one knew it at the time, the sheriff was considering a run for Congress. Recently, he e-mailed Chris from prison in Florida, where he’s serving five years. “He said, ‘I worked so hard in my 42 years of law enforcement, and it was all wiped away because of what Jonathan did. I forgive Jonathan - but I’m here because of him.’ ”
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