Former commander pleads not guilty, gets $100,000 bond

Jose Padilla // File Photo

A former commander with Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office faced a judge on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

Former Commander Jose Padilla remains in custody tonight but was given a $100,000 bond and could be released as soon as Monday.

Padilla appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos in McAllen on Friday night.

The former sheriff's office commander pleaded not guilty to federal money laundering and drug trafficking charges.

The commander, who goes by the nickname Joe Padilla, was one of the highest-ranking members of the sheriff's office.

Federal court records show that Padilla is listed as one of 12 suspects in a drug trafficking case from the Weslaco area.

Padilla is accused of taking cash to protect the drug trafficking organization.

The scandal comes following the Panama Unit scandal, in which Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino's own son was arrested.

Sheriff Trevio told Action 4 News that Padilla has been served a termination letter.

Judge Ramos accepted Padilla's not guilty plea but ordered that he will need to find a new job unrelated to law enforcement, once released on bond.

The former commander is also restricted from having any contact with employees at the sheriff's office.

He must also surrender his passport and he will be unable to travel outside South Texas.

A trial date was not immediately available but if convicted, Padilla could face 20 years in prison for the money laundering charge.

He could also face another 10 years to life in prison for the drug trafficking charge.

Once released, Padilla will placed under home detention and he will be electronically monitored at his Weslaco home.