CRYSTAL CITY — Packs of dogs roam the streets in this small town about 120 miles outside of San Antonio, and dozens of vacant homes and businesses have their windows barred or boarded. The city council, which is supposed to run the government, has only one member not facing federal criminal charges, and the city manager, also charged, has been suspended. In recent weeks, the water from some residents’ faucets gushed out black.Are we starting to see a pattern here? There's a large, notoriously corrupt, country just south of the border, it's called Mexico. It's corrupt because that's the custom of the people there. And many of those same people are now north of the border. The judge who took bribes is not Hispanic, by the way, his name is McGinty. However, the man who bribed him is San Antonio lawyer Alberto Acevedo, Jr. [FBI Press Release.]
“It’s, like, this poor town,” said Tomasa Salas, 55, as she waited in front of city hall to pick up plastic jugs of water. “There is good here, too. You just got to dig really deep to find it.”
The confluence of poverty and suspected political corruption have made Crystal City a national emblem of a small town gone bad, a place where nepotism festered for so long that the FBI had to bring in nearly 100 agents to clean it up.
“If this is a wake-up call for all other towns and cities and other municipal areas, thank God,” said Councilman Joel Barajas, the only council member not to face a federal charge.
The FBI has long waged a war against corruption in small towns across the country, but the problem seems to have grown particularly acute in the southern and western parts of Texas. In recent years, the feds have charged county officials involved in bid-rigging and kickback schemes, law enforcement officers who sold drugs they seized to other traffickers and even a state judge who took bribes for favorable rulings. The FBI’s San Antonio Division launched 23 public corruption investigations in 2012, 51 in 2013 and 64 in 2014, authorities said. [Emphases added]
In Crystal City, federal prosecutors alleged in early February that the majority of the council members were engaged in a conspiracy to help one another take bribes from those wanting to do business with the government, and one had an illicit side project: transporting illegal immigrants.Sure, but you don't get this happening a lot in Vermont.
Rob Saale, an assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s San Antonio Division, said authorities in southern Texas are battling a “perfect storm” of factors that contribute to government malfeasance. The small cities are close to the border - where Mexican drug traffickers will pay officials to facilitate their trade - and the residents are generally poor. The median household income in Crystal City, according to the most recent census data, is $24,503. When money flows in from traffickers, state grants or other sources, Saale said, elected leaders, who are unpaid for their duties, are tempted to take a cut.
“When they are offered a $500, $1,000 bribe, that’s a very large sum of money for them,” Saale said.[More]
Many residents, who are predominantly Hispanic, work in the oil fields, the Del Monte plant or the school system.Of course, it would be nothing unusual in Mexico, which is my point, a point that is, of course, overlooked by Durbin himself, and the media in general. It's something to consider when proposing to Elect a New People, or adding new Hispanic overlords to the GOP.
Corruption, of course, exists in big cities across the country, too, and Richard Durbin, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said the dollar amounts involved in Texas cases are often minuscule by comparison. But Durbin said his office prosecutes even small-town officials because, unchecked, their misconduct can become “pervasive” and have real-life impacts on the people who elect them.
“It undermines the fabric of what we all believe good government is, and that’s what’s so frustrating about it,” he said.