Drug task force disbanded

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino officially disbanded a joint drug task force with Mission Police Department Monday.

This comes after two of its members were arrested on drug charges in December.

The special drug task force may no longer be in operation but Mission Police assure the public they will continue to fight to keep drugs off the street.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office-Mission Police Department's street level drug unit, otherwise known as the Panama Unit was disbanded by Sheriff Lupe Trevino Monday morning.

Created back in August 2010, the Panama Unit was supposed to be a way for the sheriff's office to give extra resources to the Mission Police Department to get drugs off the streets in Mission and western Hidalgo County.

"This has nothing to do with the relationship with the sheriff's office, Mission Police chief Martin Garza said. We respect the decision made. We are going to continue working with the sheriff TMs office in any type of other investigations and narcotic investigations as well."

The unit was housed at the Mission Police Department and supervised by both the sheriff's office and Mission Police.

In December two of the unit's members, including the sheriff's son, Jonathan Trevino, were arrested by federal authorities on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Another two sheriff TMs deputies are also facing charges.

Prosecutors said the four accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to guard cocaine shipments.

They were all taken down in a federal sting operation.

While the task force was dismantled following the scandal, Garza says the department will still be working with the sheriff's department.

"Just because the unit was dismantled, that doesn't mean that the narcotic investigations will be ceased, Garza said. We will continue doing narcotic investigations at the street level and in neighborhood areas when they are being sold."

Garza says they also have a great working relationship with the DEA and FBI as well as the crime stoppers hotline to fight drugs at the street level.

"Every chief of police, every department head would always love more resources, whether it patrol officers or equipment. Resources make a difference. Demand plays a big role and if it is there in the future to continue a task force like this then we will consider it, Garza said.

The sheriff's office is still determining where the five deputy slots will be assigned to best meet the needs of Hidalgo County.

All four suspects in the Panama Unit scandal are out on bond.

Their case is soon expected to be heard before a federal grand jury in McAllen.