Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
Court Dates Approach for Gandara Family Members
Another Gandara made Texas news yesterday. This time it was Guillermo "Willie" Gandara, Jr. According to the El Paso Times, this Gandara, who is nicknamed "Godfather," is scheduled to plead guilty July 13 to federal drug-trafficking charges. The July 6 article reports that, Juan Canales, a co-conspirator "pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring with Gandara to smuggle marijuana from Socorro to Chicago."
The article goes on to say "A DEA agent testified during an initial court appearance that agents secretly recorded conversations between Gandara and a confidential informant in which Gandara bragged about running a drug pipeline from El Paso to Oklahoma and Chicago." The 124 pounds of marijuana bound for Chicago were hidden in boxes of chili powder.
After the arrest, Guillermo "Willie" Gandara Jr., resigned as county commissioner and withdrew as a candidate for state representative.
Willie Gandara Sr. was the former mayor of the city of Socorro and also a former trustee of the Socorro Independent School District. The Valley Star, another Texas newspaper, reported in January 2012, "Willie Gandara Sr. has been under federal indictment by a grand jury in El Paso since August 2010 in connection with an investigation into corruption. He has not pleaded guilty."
The Gandara Sr. case was related to a health care benefits vendor, ACCESS Health Source. The Valley Star article explains: "the indictment alleges that ACCESS conspired to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, including mail fraud, wire fraud and bribery."
In San Diego, Jesus Gandara, former superintendent of Sweetwater Union High School District, is scheduled to appear in court on January 7, 2013. He is charged with bribery, perjury, filing a false document and other counts. He has pleaded not guilty.
Guillermo "Willie" Gandara, Jr. is nephew to Jesus Gandara.