Mexican Drug Bucks Ensnare Texas County, Sheriff
Border sheriff faces trial for clearing the way for drug traffickers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2009 6:41 AM CDT
A sign in El Paso, Texas, Tuesday, April 22, 2008 on the road leading into Mexico warns about carrying firearms and ammunition into Mexico.    (AP Photo/Alicia Caldwell)
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(Newser) – Starr County on the Texas border is enjoying boom times while the rest of the country is stuck in recession, the Los Angeles Times reports. The county—still one of America's poorest—lies at the center of the cross-border drug trade, and while residents acknowledge that illicit cash has long been central to the economy, the arrest of the county sheriff on drug charges surprised many.

Prosecutors allege that well-liked sheriff Ray Guerra worked in tandem with his Mexican counterpart over the border to smuggle thousands of pounds of marijuana and cocaine into the US. Many residents believe Guerra—who resigned immediately after his arrest—is innocent, but others say the county's culture is to blame. Drug traffickers "feel they can buy law enforcement," said the US attorney for southern Texas. "And sometimes they can."