Ex-county Commissioner Pleads Guilty In Drug Case

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A former El Paso County commissioner has pleaded guilty to drug charges in a federal drug trafficking case.

Willie Gandara Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court in El Paso on Friday to drug trafficking conspiracy and using a property for marijuana manufacturing. Gandara faces up to 20 years in prison on each count when he’s sentenced Nov. 14.

He and associate Juan Canales were arrested in February. Prosecutors accused the pair of trying to smuggle 124 pounds of marijuana through a remote checkpoint in Sierra Blanca by hiding the drugs in Chicago-bound boxes of chili powder.

Canales pleaded guilty last month to a drug conspiracy count.

Gandara’s arrest prompted him to abandon a campaign for a seat in the Texas House.

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