Drug Trafficking Drug Warrior Could Get 20 Years

Yesterday I blogged about Willie Gandara Jr., an El Paso County Commissioner who was arrested for drug trafficking. Gandara has also been a staunch critic of legalizing drugs and even accused drug policy reformers of having "an ulterior agenda." But on Thursday afternoon, Gandara was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute more than 110 pounds (50 kg) of cannabis. He could face 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each charge.

The El Paso Times lists his charges:

Gandara faces one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, a second count of possession with intent to distribute and three counts of maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana.

Depending on the quality of the weed and assuming Gandara was planning to sell it within Texas, he could have made anywhere from $140,000 to $700,000.

There's another layer of schadenfreude for Gandara. He's been accused of conspiring to distribute 50 kg of weed. But if he were conspiring to distribute only 49 kg, his penalties would have been less severe. Since this would be Gandara's first offense, his prison sentence would have gone from no more than 20 years to no more than five, if convicted. Meanwhile, fines would have been capped at $250,000 per offense, not $1 million. You would think a county commissioner and drug warrior would know more about drug laws.

Unfortunately, the drug war's lack of logic doesn't end there. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which according to the DEA, means it has "high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision." But both meth and PCP are Schedule II.

Reason.tv on marijuana legalization after Prop. 19.

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  • rther||

    john|2.22.12 @ 12:29PM|#
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    John|2.24.12 @ 9:04AM|#I Don't do it LH. The pictures she puts up will scar you for life. If you do read it, you can see where the white indian crap comes from and how there is no doubt she is white indian.

  • the rest of us||

    the fuck?

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  • ?||

    He could face 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each charge.

    Are "libertarians" happy when an enemy gets the same unjust sentence as an ally?

    Discuss.

  • ?||

    (It's a mostly rhetorical question. Here's the answer as provided by editor Sibilla:)

    "There's another layer of schadenfreude for Gandara."

    Any questions?

  • Bloodthirsty Libertarian||

    Oh come on, question mark. It's not like we're openly advocating prison rape.

    [looks around]

    Are we?

  • ||

    I am not clear as to his official duties, so I do not know what, if any, role Gandara played in sending others to prison for the same offence.

    However, I would say this is a clear case of the application of the principle of "By their deeds you shall know them."

  • ?||

    Thank you for playing my rigged game.

  • ||

    Thank you for not noticing that I didn't answer your loaded question.

  • ?||

    Got to change this handle. People have figured out I'm a piece of shit.

  • ?||

    [sigh]

    Spoofers admit defeat with their spoofing.

  • ||

    Most of us who are still capable of rational thought just want this nonsense to end!

    The second biggest business during alcohol prohibition in 1920s Detroit was liquor, at $215 million a year and employing an estimated 50,000 people. Authorities were not only helpless to stop it, many were part of the problem. During just one raid, the state police arrested Detroit Mayor John Smith, Michigan Congressman Robert Clancy, and Sheriff Edward Stein.

    Just like their counter-parts of the 1920s, Drug cartels are eager and ready to show, that when it comes to business, they too, are completely non-partisan. They will buy-out and threaten politicians of any party; making deals with whoever can benefit them, and killing those who are brave or foolish enough to get in their way.

  • guy in the back row||

    I think the only legitimate use of the death penalty is in cases where drug warriors are profiting by the sale of drugs.

  • Bloodthirsty Libertarian||

    I agree.

  • Schadenfreude||

    20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each charge seems like a reasonable sentence for the crime of hypocrisy.

  • Brendan||

    Subject him to civil forfeiture, shoot his dog, terrorize his family, ransack his house, and then assault at one or more stages of arrest/booking.

    I'd support a plea bargain where the 500 drug charges (conspiracy, attempted conspiracy, using an item manufactured with parts shipped in interstate commerce to commit a crime, etc) down to 10 charges each served consecutively, each with a sentence of 5-20 years with parole possible after 4 years.

    He REALLY needs the full drug war treatment.

  • Almanian||

    Can we spare the dog in this case? The dog killing really does bother me.

    Just askin'...

  • Brendan||

    True, the dog didn't really do anything. Perhaps they can pretend to kill/say that they killed his dog so he experience that aspect of the drug war experience.

    I think it's important that drug warriors have the full experience, but agree that certain things should probably be simulated to spare the innocent.

  • Bloodthirsty Libertarian||

    I wholly concur, but don't you think his wife should be raped, just for kicks? Thx.

  • Brendan||

    Rent-seeking/Protectionism at its finest.

    He knew that prohibition was the best way to keep his profits up.

  • ||

    Your point argues that he is not a hypocrite. It would be incorrect to consider him to be a legitimate drug warrior. Quite the opposite, he is a savvy business man dealing in contraband while at the same time playing a system that is designed to put him out of business. Look, by playing the drug warrior he:

    • Is in the position to promote policies that protect his distribution system from competition.
    • Establishes anti-drug bona fides that serve to divert suspicion from him.
    • Influences the drug war policies that could harm his business.
    • Gains access to drug war intelligence and information

    This man isn’t a hypocrite, he is a genius.

  • ||

    A couple of years ago we had a dare officer here making drug deals in a school parking lot on a cell phone from his patrol car. Everyone found out about it because during one of the deals he unknowingly pressed the button on his police radio, broadcasting the deal parish wide. In my opinion, that is the only reason he was prosecuted. It is amazing this guy was.

  • Almanian||

    That is exquisite and delicious. Fucking scumbag.

  • ||

    This guy was because the feds caught him. Made it kind of hard for the local mafia to cover up for him.

  • ||

    I wonder if that works the other way around too.....
    Didnt one of the federal agencies involved in Fast and Furious also get caught facilitating huge drug deals? Wht would be even more exquisite and delicious than the story I gave would be for several agencies of drug warriors to get into a blazing gun battle with each other.

  • toddb||

    These county commissioner types are complete scum. My dad worked for several years for one. The feds eventually took him down (the commissioner, not my dad)for fraud and theft...did about 7 years in the pen. The local political party backed him to the hilt all the way and continued to protest his innocence even after he went to prison.

  • Joe M||

    Gandara has also been a staunch critic of legalizing drugs and even accused drug policy reformers of having "an ulterior agenda."

    Considering the circumstances, that's the most amusing part.

  • Gandara||

    and even accused drug policy reformers of having "an ulterior agenda"...

    Bastards were cutting deeply into my profit margin!

  • Almanian||

    You know who else had an "ulterior agenda"....

  • T||

    Idi Amin? Wait, he had a Uganda.

    Never mind.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    There's another layer of schadenfreude for Gandara. He's been accused of conspiring to distribute 50 kg of weed....You would think a county commissioner and drug warrior would know more about drug laws.

    He was accused of conspiring to distribute more than 50kg of marijuana, which, for the record, in this sentencing range, he could have been trafficking 99kg and gotten the same charge. The reason the article says "more than 50kg" is because it is borrowed from the statute and/or DEA language that sets forth penalties.

    In other words, this "amusement" that he doesn't know drug laws is misplaced.

  • ||

    ?

    Not sure what you are getting at.

    I don't think the issue is the precise quantity, but that Gandara should have known that dealing in drugs in bulk would carry severe penalties.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    No, see, here is what the author said:

    There's another layer of schadenfreude for Gandara. He's been accused of conspiring to distribute 50 kg of weed. But if he were conspiring to distribute only 49 kg, his penalties would have been less severe.

    He was actually accused of conspiring to distribute more than 50kg, so the point about "not knowing the drug laws" falls flat. Maybe he peddled 99kg, knowing that a severe enhancement comes in again at 100kg.

  • ||

    And since these are federal charges, the sovereign state of Texas could also charge and try him for anything he did which violates Texas law. Yes, even if he'd already been convicted under federal law for those acts. And the TX judge could also make him serve his sentence for the state convictions consecutive to his federal sentence (ie, serve fed time first, then state time).

    I hope they do. To send a message and all.

    Because, cowardly troll, there's a big difference between people with whom one disagrees and people who are actively fighting against freedom.

  • ||

    So he should have just smoked more and his sentence would have been lighter...that is the take away!

  • ||

    Mark my words, he'll never serve a day in jail. Being part of the political elite, he'll get a break limited to probation and community service that will be expunged from his record as soon as the spotlight is off. Hypocritical government minions never face the same penalties as us peons.

  • ||

    It might work out... he might be that rare cop they punish appropriately so they can point to the stopped clock and say that it keeps perfect time.

  • Tonio||

    And he's not a cop, Sug, he's a county commissioner. Sometimes politicians can skate on the charges, but the fact that the feds are involved tells me know. In fact, it might be a fed bust because they didn't trust the locals to do it right, ie "accidentally" make a technical error which would allow him to get off.

  • ||

    Never mind. I think I mixed it up with something else. Or my feeble brain is finally giving out.

    HURR DURR

  • ||

    HURR DURR

    It's a sad day when our current crop of obsessive troll(s) makes me miss Crayon.

  • ||

    It was a Golden Age, Solanum. And like all Golden Ages, they are only apparent in hindsight...

  • Tonio||

    No prob, Sug.

  • Tonio||

    No, Danno. He's facing federal charges. There is no longer probation in the federal system. Also, mandatory sentencing guidelines. His only avenue for expungement of federal charges is through executive pardon.

  • ||

    All he has to do is rat out a few underlings for a reduction in charges, or have one of his friends make a nice donation to Obama's reelection campaign and he'll get that pardon. These people never get the same level of 'justice' that we would under the same circumstances.

  • SaraK||

    He's a county commissioner. Does that really qualify as 'part of the political elite'?

  • ||

    Depends on teh county, Sara. Little dinky counties like Lee County, VA (pop 25,600) not so much. Big counties like Cook County, IL or Los Angeles County, CA, very much so. This guy is from El Paso County, pop 800,000, so at least a medium-sized fish.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    El Paso is the ass-end of Texas and doesn't rate. When UTEP applied to be one of the schools promoted to Tier One in the University of Texas system everyone I knew in those circles actually laughed out loud.

    Mind you, it's not actually a bad town of 200,000 souls, but it doesn't have anything like the level of services you'd expect for 3/4 of million people.

  • ||

    where's dunphy?

  • ||

    The dude's not a cop, so I don't see the need to have dunphy comment.

  • Paul||

    Gandara has also been a staunch critic of legalizing drugs and even accused drug policy reformers of having "an ulterior agenda."[...]

    There's another layer of schadenfreude for Gandara.

    There's no irony, and only minimal schadenfreude.

    Gandara and the entire front-line drug warrior establishment don't want drugs legalized because it's become a full-employment program for entire law enforcement departments.

    People like Gandara know that the profit potential remains high. They see it every day. So there is actual logic behind him not wanting any form of drug legalization. Then he'd be competing with Bartel's and the profit margins would be so small you'd need a microscope and a C.P.fucking A. to find them.

  • ||

    Exactly. Cops, politicians, etc. all profit from the drug war one way or another. Some directly, because it pays their salaries. Others indirectly, because it embiggens their authoritay.

    This guy was just double-dipping, is all.

  • Bloodthirsty Libertarian||

    the drug war...pays their salaries

    I thought taxpayers did that. I learn something new here every day.

    it embiggens their authoritay

    Ha ha! That's funny, like a cartoon character said it!

  • ||

    Given where this guy is, that weed is way overvalued. It was almost certainly Mexican brickweed. That stuff is dirt cheap around the Mexican border in Texas. No way it's worth over $1,200 to over $6,000 a pound. It's a few hundred a pound, under five hundred most likely, and the guy with a 110 pounds isn't selling quarter ounces. He's moving several pounds at a time.

  • John||

    Of course he was against drug reform - *ALL* drug traffickers are against drug reform. They know that it will put them out of business.

  • ||

    The same appears to apply to medical marijuana providers in states where that's legal. A lot of them fight tooth and nail against legalization initiatives.

  • ||

    I only know that, by the way, because I've handled several thousand pounds worth of pot cases as an attorney. It's dirt cheap by the border, and then the father they transport it the more expensive it gets. It might go for $1,200 in the Northeast, but not near the border in Texas. You could get 50 kilos in Mexcio for around $50 a pound.

  • Tonio||

    Gandara is something of a local political bigwig: team donkey, former mayor, candidate for state legislature. So Danno might be on to something. From TFA:

    Gandara faces one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, a second count of possession with intent to distribute and three counts of maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine for each count.
    Gandara is the owner of Socorro Iron and Metal, is college-educated and is part of the well-known Gandara family that is a political force in Socorro. He was Socorro mayor from 2004 to 2006 and is currently running for the Texas House District 75 seat.

  • ||

    Pot has this bizarre stigma that it still can't shake, after all these years. I've been casually smoking in my apt for over a year now, for example, until recently when my neighbors decided to finally call the cops. Needless to say, it was a heart-wrenching experience.

    But the fucked up part was that this cop would not stop knocking on the door/violently ringing the doorbell for almost two hours! Of course, I pretended no one was home. You'd think they'd have more important matters to attend to than attempting to "nab" a private user in NYC.

    I did some digging around afterwards and found out that the NYPD has made small-time pot busts like that an incredibly high-priority. I mean, that explained the bizarre behavior by this officer. All of that, in a state which decriminalized use in the '70s (with no medical reasoning necessary).

  • ||

    drug test everyone on government salary. then hang them, guilty or not.
    as an example.

  • ||

    Gandara is not a hypocrite. It would be incorrect to consider him to be a legitimate drug warrior. Quite the opposite, he is a savvy business man dealing in contraband while at the same time playing a system that is designed to put him out of business. Look, by playing the drug warrior he:

    • Is in the position to promote policies that protect his distribution system from competition.
    • Establishes anti-drug bona fides that serve to divert suspicion from him.
    • Influences the drug war policies that could harm his business.
    • Gains access to drug war intelligence and information

    This man isn’t a hypocrite, he is a genius.

  • ||

    @Paul;: "People like Gandara know that the profit potential remains high."

    The quetsion isn't, "Why is Gandara in the pot business?" but, "Why aren't we all in the pot business?"

  • ||

    because gandarra and the likes of him lock up the competition.
    how cool is that ?

  • ||

    stupid,,it will cost 500,000 dollars to keep him in jail for 20 years,,, thats 25,000 a year,,,, for 30,000 dollars worth of weed, waste of time and money,,he looks to be at least 40 something i guess ,,he will be in his 60's when he gets out!! how much of these 1,000,000 dollar fines will be paid,,not even 5% will be paid,, what are they going to do lock him back up...hahaha!!! the police could sell the weed and it wouldnt pay his stay in prison for 20 years!!! think about 200 or 300 people for similar charges this starts adding very very fast,, and we wonder why we are in debt 15 trillion!!!

  • ||

    war on drugs
    war on terror
    war on americans by americans
    =
    15 trillion dollars
    and climbing.

  • ||

    Gandara does not deserve to spend any time in jail for drug trafficking. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail for egregious hypocrisy, should he survive tarring and feathering.

    -jcr

  • ||

    jail time will include all sorts of
    unexpected indignities.

  • ||

    "Gandara faces one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, a second count of possession with intent to distribute and three counts of maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana."

    This is like being charged with one count of Driving While Intoxicated, a second count of Using a Car to Drive While Intoxicated, and four counts for every tire on the car. So many laws are like this now. Its all the same crime, but people are charged with ten different things.

  • ||

    Prohibition comes with great human cost. If you support it; you're either a black market profiteer, a corrupt politician, a terrorist, a sadomoralistic fake-conservative, or an authoritarian wing-nut-socialist.

    As a prohibitionist, you've helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike, while making these dangerous substances freely available in schools and prisons.

    You've triggered the worst crime wave in history, raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging, and helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

  • ||

    vote independants
    support "OCCUPY"
    and maybe, just maybe, all this shit
    will be re examined.

  • ||

    Malcolm, that is one of the most succinct and accurate commentaries on drug prohibition I've read in a long time. Nice work.

  • Wayne||

    Former Las Vegas DA who prosecuted drug cases sentenced to nine months for felony crack posession.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/forme.....09373.html

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