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Guerra, one of 12 who applied for the position, will serve in the post until a special election in November. In the meantime, county precinct chairs from both parties will make nominations for candidates to face off in November. Guerra said he hoped to be one of them.
“If I don’t, I’m out of a job,” he said.
Guerra planned to meet with the command staff Thursday afternoon.
“We’re going to start restoring accountability back in the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We’re going to start holding the deputies accountable for their actions from now on. We’re not going to make any excuses. My work begins now.”
Prior to selecting Guerra for the post, the court was given brief descriptions of each of the 12 applicants: Guerra; Fred Ball, retired from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Frank Gallegos, retired McAllen police officer; Daniel Garcia, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Jail Commander; Juan Gonzalez; Geovani Hernandez, La Joya Police Chief; Ricardo Herrera, former Cameron County Sheriff’s office investigator; Alejandro Morales; Adan Muñoz, retired Kleberg County Sheriff; Esteban Soto, former U.S. Marshal; Tom Whitten, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office jail commander.
County Judge Ramon Garcia polled commissioners asking their preferences. Fred Ball, because of his federal experience, was considered one of the top candidates. However, Ball was not present at the meeting to present his qualifications.
Both Daniel Garcia and Guerra were present to speak to the court, and following their presentations, Pct. 4 Commissioner Joel Palacios made the recommendation that Guerra be appointed interim sheriff.
Palacios said Guerra had a good working relationship with several government agencies. Without further discussion, the vote was unanimous in favor of the appointment.
Guerra became a reserve deputy constable in 1995. In 1999, he was appointed by Hidalgo County Sheriff Henry Escalon to the U.S. Customs Task Force as a liaison to the Sheriff’s Office. And in 2008, he was elected constable. In addition to his law enforcement duties, Guerra has business experience in managing the finances of his family ranch.
The sheriff’s office came under fire in December 2012 when members of the sheriff’s Panama Unit were placed under federal arrest on drug conspiracy charges. Among those arrested was the Jonathan Treviño, the sheriff’s son and a member of the Mission Police Department. In December 2013, the sheriff’s commander, Jose A. Padilla, was arrested on charges of marijuana smuggling and money laundering.
Treviño submitted his resignation Friday, March 28.
“My decision is the result of internal and external pressures placed upon me since December 12, 2012,” Treviño stated in the letter. “The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office being the 8th largest sheriff’s office in the state deserves dedicated and focused attention, which I have not been able to give it.”
A separate news release stated Treviño would not be available for further comment, but he made a post on Facebook to supporters stating, “Please take the letter and it’s contents for face value. Rumors run abound but they are rumors until they become fact.”
Remarking on Treviño’s resignation, Virginia Townsend, OWLS (Objective Watchers of the Legal System), said it was time to thank Treviño for all he had done for older citizens of the county.
He assigned a group to a 10-hour drive with a deputy so they could learn about the duties each deputy faced daily. He offered women’s defense instruction and taught classes to older people on how to defend their homes in case of a home invasion, along with many other things designed to make Hidalgo County residents safer, Townsend said.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.