News today from U.S. Attorney John M. Bales as he told the world that 48-year-old Roberto Garcia of Pasadena, Texas man has plead guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in the Eastern District Federal Court of Texas.
As many of our readers remember, law enforcement officers received a tip directing them to a large marijuana growing operation in the rural area near Hull, Texas. The tip led to more than 1,000 maturing marijuana plants and an operation that included a trailer outfitted with grow lights and heating/air conditioning for indoor cultivation of marijuana. But almost as eye-opening as what had fallen into the hands of law enforcement was the rush by politicians running for office to capitalize on the busts.
The problem Liberty Dispatch had with this case initially is that before news of the drug busts reached the newspapers, Sheriff Henry Patterson’s campaign team were claiming that this bust would guarantee his re-election. Another lawman running for office seemed more concerned with getting glamor shots with him and the pot for his campaign literature than securing a bust that could be successfully prosecuted in court.
When LD was the first to report a problem with the arrest, Patterson reversed course and distanced him from any potential problems. When there were no arrest and Patterson knew his office was unlikely to make arrest he was strangely quiet for a man that had pushed his people out in the public bragging he was sure to get four more years as sheriff because his office sent men out to follow up on this tip. Then when someone was arrested, his campaign people raised their ugly political heads and claimed victory for Patterson all over again. But then when a new problem arose, they got quiet again. A suppression hearing was held Friday in Beaumont after law enforcement made an unforgivable mistake. Patterson failed to get a search warrant until several hours after his Captains began cutting down the marijuana crop and searching homes on the property. One of Patterson’s men who are running office was hot to trot to cut the plants and pose for pictures.
Uh – oh! Even though the courts are allowing the evidence thanks to a loophole in the law, now Patterson will still probably prefer that we all forget this case again. There are too many screw ups in the case. Besides, those listening to what Bobby Rader says he could improve on if he is elected sheriff may say this case inadvertently help him. Rader has maintained his time as a judge makes him very aware that our sheriff department needs more training on how to approach crime scenes and investigations in ways that make the case more likely to be successful in court.
Bahena-Garcia faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison at sentencing and he is the big loser in this case. But two politicians are losers too for the way they tried to use this case for political gain.
This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Liberty County Sheriff's Office deputies and investigators and Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Craft. Our story is not meant to cast a shadow on any of these people. Their work and the work of U.S. Attorney John Bales are much appreciated… Sheriff Patterson and all of his campaign people’s effort to take as much credit as they could is a complete embarrassment. Please just do your job and give credit to the tipster Sheriff Patterson. The tipster was the key to the part you participated in. Without him, you and your political friends would have had no excitement.