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Texas recycler headed to prison on drug conviction

Keywords: Tags  scrapyard, Socorro Iron & Metal, Gandara's Recycling, Willie Gandara, Lisa Gordon

PITTSBURGH — A Texas scrapyard owner has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of money laundering and drug trafficking.

Willie Gandara Jr., an owner of Socorro Iron & Metal Inc. and Gandara’s Recycling in Socorro, in August pleaded guilty in federal District Court in Texas to one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana and maintaining property for the distribution of marijuana.

Gandara—who will also forfeit his scrapyard—last week was sentenced to 78 months in prison. He will get three years’ supervised release upon its completion. He was facing up to 20 years in prison on five criminal charges.

The judge also ordered Gandara to pay a $300,000 fine and forfeit the cash and two vehicles seized at his arrest.

Gandara, who had been a member of the El Paso County Commission and sought a seat in the state House of Representatives, was allegedly seen on video offloading drugs at one of his yards. He was arrested in February (, March 2).

"The public has the right to expect their elected officials to conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards. Mr. Gandara violated the public’s trust on many levels and he is facing severe consequences as a result," U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement.

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