Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story 2/28/03

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A federal jury in McAllen, TX, shot Valentine's Day arrows at two Rio Grande Valley police officers, finding them guilty of aiding and abetting drug traffickers, extortion and conspiracy on February 14. Former Donna, TX, police chief Marco Abel Partida and former Donna police officer Gerardo Vigil were found guilty of using police vehicles to escort hundreds of pounds of marijuana through their town.

The two were set to be sentenced Thursday. They face up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

The busts came after convicted drug dealer turned informant Rigoberto Quintanilla ratted out the pair. Quintanilla secretly taped meetings where he, Partida and Vigil worked out their deals, escorted what they thought to be loads of marijuana, and divided up the spoils from their dirty work. Quintanilla turned informer after being busted at a US Border Patrol checkpoint in a semi-trailer loaded with 6,000 pounds of pot.

"This is not the end of the process," assistant US Attorney Daniel Rodriguez told a press conference after the verdict was announced. "It's the beginning of what we're trying to accomplish, not only in the Valley, but in the whole southern district of Texas -- hold people and especially public officials accountable."

As readers of this feature undoubtedly realize, Rodriguez should count on being busy for the foreseeable future.

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