I have written previously about the culture of corruption that permeates through the psyche of El Paso politicos. It is this culture that allows the political shenanigans to continue unimpeded. The El Paso community leaders, paraded in handcuffs on the way to the court house, are individuals that the community, at large, held in high esteem for many years. As a matter of fact, the reaction be city leaders is not one of concern, but rather a shrugging of the shoulders with, “oh well, he got caught” mindset. I use the term cultural because it is a mindset that sees nothing wrong with the many instances of public corruption in the community. It is a mindset that keeps getting the same individuals elected into office by the same voters each election cycle without fail.
The corruption is so engrained that El Paso does not produce citizens it can be proud of at the national stage, but rather citizens that showcase corruption at its worst.
As you know, Robert Almonte was fired by the United States Marshal’s Service last week. The circumstances of Almonte’s firing are incomplete. However, keep in mind that the United States Marshal’s Service was clearly not playing around. It issued a letter to Almonte informing him that if he didn’t tender his resignation immediately, he would be met by US Marshals, relieved of his weapon, credentials and escorted off of the premises. That is not a simple government firing, that is a public expression of disgust by the Marshal’s Service, a national law enforcement agency.
Think about the black eye on El Paso, as another El Paso native is paraded before the national news for corrupt practices. Yes, he was born in El Paso. Remember Dana Pittard? As has become my tradition, let me connect a few dots for you. Robert Almonte was appointed as the United States Marshal for the Western District in 2010. Before his appointment, Almonte was a deputy police chief in the El Paso Police Department. While at the El Paso Police Department, Almonte worked in narcotics.
In 2000, Robert Almonte was promoted from captain to commander by Carlos Leon. Yup, that would be the same Carlos Leon who is now a County Commissioner. In order to move Almonte into the command slot, a female commander, Sylvia Aguilar, had to be removed from her position. Aguilar filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the City for her removal to make way for Almonte.
In 2003, Almonte initiated an investigation against George De Angelis for allegedly threatening the life of Carlos Leon. De Angelis, a former police deputy himself, had previously alleged that the Mexican drug cartels had infiltrated the El Paso Police Department. Carlos Leon, rather than investigate the drug-connection allegation against one of his subordinates, instead targeted De Angelis for retribution.
I am sure you are starting to see the dots connect. Almonte self-appointed himself as an “expert” on the Santa Muerte cult, frequented by drug traffickers and embarked on the national circuit promoting his “expertise” on the drug culture. Now, all of a sudden, Almonte is summarily dismissed by the United States Marshal’s Service.
Keep one thing in mind, it is not easy to dismiss a government employee, especially from a federal law enforcement agency. Even more important is the very public manner in which Robert Almonte was fired. Yes, I know that technically, he resigned, however we all know that if he did not resign he would be escorted off of the premises and put on administrative leave, a prelude to being fired. For all intents and purposes, Almonte was very publicly fired.
Almonte is not the only one. You do remember former FBI Agent in Charge, Hardrick Crawford, Jr.? Crawford was convicted for cozying up to Juárez drug cartel characters at about the same time Almonte was working in the narcotics division of the El Paso police department. This would be about the same time that De Angelis discovered proof of drug cartel infiltration of the police department.
Tie all that in with Carlos Leon, Willie Gandara and all of the problems recently faced by El Paso police officers that ranged from stealing from a wedding party to being convicted of drug trafficking and you can clearly see that there is a problem of character, from the command staff down to the rookies entering the force today. Now add to that equation the rise of the Barrio Aztecas in El Paso, who became the foot soldiers in the recent bloodshed between the Juárez cartel and Chapo Guzman’s cartel and you can clearly see the underlining problem of corruption throughout the leadership of El Paso.
Clearly and beyond a shadow of a doubt – it is a culture of corruption.