PITTSBURGH El Paso, Texas, scrapyard owner and public official Willie Gandara Jr. intends to plead guilty to charges of laundering money and engaging in drug trafficking from his facility at a July 26 court date.
Gandara, an owner of Socorro Iron & Metal Inc. and Gandaras Recycling, also held a seat on the El Paso County Commission. He was running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives when arrested.
Gandara had been charged with three counts of maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana after allegedly having been seen on video offloading drugs at one of his yards (AMM, March 5). He also was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana.
The government is advancing in its attempt to have Gandara forfeit a 1.4-acre scrapyard property, as well the vehicle used in the offenses.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the five counts. The sentencing hearing will be determined at the July 26 court date.