Update: County Commissioner Arrested
POSTED: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 7:40pm
UPDATED: Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 9:34pm
EL PASO - We're learning more about the arrests of County Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr. and Juan Canales, his alleged accomplice. Both men are being held behind bars with no bond for drug trafficking.
Court documents say Commissioner Gandara and Canales used a Socorro home to sell pot last September and October. Now federal agents are trying to seize the property, but according to online county records it doesn't belong to Commissioner Gandara or Canales. It belongs to former Socorro Mayor Willie Gandara Sr., the County Commissioner's dad.
Gandara Sr. was indicted on federal corruption charges last year, and was voted out of office. Now, like his son, he awaits trial. We called Mr. Gandara for comment on his property possibly being seized in the drug case, but he has not returned our call.
Meanwhile, the attorneys for Commissioner Gandara and Canales say both men will plead not-guilty on Tuesday. They say, the federal agents haven't shown them any of the evidence they say they have.
The attorney's have not said how the men are connected, but sources at the El Paso County Courthouse say the two are always together. We're told Canales has been hanging around Commissioner Gandara's office for the past several months. We asked the county's human resource department if he's a paid employee, but they wouldn't give us a direct answer. Instead, they asked us to submit an open records request. We did.
Although it's still unclear if Commissioner Gandara is paying Canales to work for him, online finance records show that Canales donated $1,500 to Commissioner Gandara's campaign for State Representative. He was only one of two people who donated and don't appear to be part of the Gandara family. All other donors to his campaign appear to be related to him.
At this point it's unclear if Commissioner Gandara will continue his campaign for State Representative. It also doesn't appear he has any plans to resign from his current seat.