On moving to Miami during that city's Cocaine Cowboy heyday, a friend once described the place thusly: "You are nobody here until you are under indictment."
As the frontline for the drug war has shifted from Colombia and South Florida to Mexico and South Texas, it seems like that ethos has taken hold in the Valley.
Not that the area south of the Nueces was ever some paragon of tidy, efficient Scandinavian-style governance. It's always seemed to be like some unholy combination of Deep South Boss Hawg-style sheriff rule combined with Wild West cowboy six-shooter antics, all seasoned with plenty of machismo. To quote Los Lobos, "Alli siempre paso la vida, con la pistola y el corazon." Like Texas, only more so.
And while you can't really trace any of these sins and misdeeds directly to the drug war, things do seem to be reaching a fever pitch down there right now.
The sitting mayor of Brownsville was just arrested for DWI for the third time in his life, while judges were in hot water in Hidalgo County for crimes ranging from forgery to stealing traffic ticket money.
And then there's Brownsville Judge Phil Bellamy, who was arrested for verbally abusing Walmart staff and then likened his ensuing woes to the persecution of Star Trek's Spock and SpongeBob SquarePants. (His ensuing suit to countermand an order to have him committed to the loony bin was dismissed.)
The town of Sullivan City merits special mention. After the chief of police went down in a federal drug sweep a few weeks ago, it came to light that his replacement also has a record. Only seven years ago, back when he was a cop in the town of Edcouch, the new chief was busted for DWI and possession of coke. (The charges were later dismissed.)
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And then, and then, and then....There's the town of La Villa, where all of these elements come together in one glorious case.
Mayor Hector Elizondo was just arrested for trading $10 crack rocks for blow jobs. Not that Eloy Cardenas, the guy who slapped on the cuffs, is a saint either. Cardenas, the chief of police of both La Villa and the neighboring town of Edcouch, is currently on trial for shooting Isidro Rodriguez, his wife's ex, with a shotgun packed with bean-bag shells and then burying the evidence in a chicken coop.
Cardenas's attorney Hector Villarreal does not deny his client shot at Rodriguez, but does say it was in self-defense, and that Rodriguez probably had it coming: "(My client is) a man of quality, integrity and good standing in his community. The alleged victim was so stoned and so drunk when he reported the shooting that he couldn't even walk."
Sounds like outstanding mayoral timber, or at the very least, a great candidate for the police academy.