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.

Willie Gandara Jr., El Paso narc

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.