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      FBI investigates 'politiqueras' who paid money and cigarettes for votes

      File Photo

      Two Rio Grande Valley "politiqueras" were questioned by the FBI after they were recruited by candidates to pay people to vote.

      According to the FBI agent who investigated the two women, a "politiquera" is a person who is hired by a candidate to bring in votes by paying voters.

      The San Antonio Express-News published an article 'Politiqueras' a fixture in Rio Grande Valley elections, where they explained politiqueras as a "tradition ingrained in the culture of the Rio Grande Valley."

      Two alleged "politiqueras," Guadalupe Escamilla and Rebecca Gonzalez, were arrested after an FBI investigation determined they were paying voters money, food, and cigarettes for their votes.

      The investigation alleges that the two worked as "politiqueras" during the 2012 primary election and the general election.

      During the general election, federal candidates were on the ballot.

      Guadalupe Escamilla

      Escamilla allegedly told an FBI agent that she was working as a "politiqueras" for candidates running for school board in Donna.

      According to court documents obtained by Action 4 News, Escamilla was being paid by two candidates to get people to vote for them.

      She was instructed by the candidates to pay any voter that asked to be paid for their vote.

      Documents alleged that Escamilla paid the voters between $3 and $10 for their vote and gave some of them food and cigarettes.

      Witnesses were interviewed by the FBI and said Gonzalez paid them to vote for specific candidates during the 2012 general election.

      Rebecca Gonzalez

      Gonzalez told the FBI she was a "politiquera" for candidates who were running in the 2012 primary election and candidates who were up for seats on the school board in Donna,

      She allegedly told agents she was paid $40 on multiple occasions for her work as a "politiquera" and paid other $5 to $10 for them to vote.

      It is against federal law to pay people to vote and to accept payment to recruit others to vote.

      Possible punishment

      Escamilla and Gonzalez appeared before Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos on Friday for a detention hearing.

      They are currently in custody of the U.S. Marshals.

      The two alleged "politiqueras" face up to five years in prison and could be fined up to $10,000.

      They cannot travel outside of Hidalgo County, cannot carry weapons, and cannot work for political candidates or be involved in elections.