Pubdate: Mon, 19 Dec 2011
Source: Brownsville Herald, The (TX)
Copyright: 2011 The Brownsville Herald
Author: Jared Taylor, The Monitor


EDINBURG - Five Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office employees are no
longer employed after an internal investigation.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino announced the four terminations
and resignation in a news release Monday morning.

The dismissals come after a round of drug tests at the Sheriff's

Citing privacy concerns, Trevino would not confirm the five employees
failed drug tests. Sources familiar with the situation said the
deputies had failed their drug tests.

Deputy Amando Guerra resigned amid the internal investigation. Deputy
David Ortiz was terminated.

Sgt. Osnel Salinas and Sgt. Ricardo Olivarez, who work at the county
jail, were terminated. And detention officer Robert Rodriguez was
fired for violating the sheriff's drug and alcohol policy, as well.

The Monitor first confirmed an internal investigation regarding
deputies testing positive for drugs last week.

Sheriff Lupe Trevino under legal advice accepted the one resignation
letter because the letter was delivered before the internal
investigation was concluded. The other four were terminated after the
investigation was concluded.

"I believe that the people of Hidalgo County deserve the very best,
clear-headed law abiding person as their public servant," Trevino said
in a statement. "I will continue to purge those unworthy from our
ranks regardless of cost."

Trevino said his office has conducted 879 drug tests on employees at
the Sheriff's Office, which also oversees the jail, this year.

The sheriff's internal affairs unit will conduct a "complete
operational audit" on drug cases investigated by Guerra and Ortiz in
the past 12 months.

Guerra, formerly assigned to the sheriff's Tactical Patrol Unit, was
the focus of a 2010 Monitor article that profiled the team.

"The purpose of the operational audit is to ensure that no drug
criminal case has been compromised," Trevino said.

The sheriff this morning ordered all executive command and command
staffers to face drug testing.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

"It is not a violation of the law to possess drugs in your bodies'
systems, like it was in years past," Trevino said. "I apologize to the
people of Hidalgo County for the actions of these five employees out
of our 750 strong work force." 
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