In the remote town of Crystal City, Texas, the mayor, city manager, mayor pro tempore, a city councilman, and a former councilman were all arrested by federal agents last week. Last month, another councilman was arrested. Crystal City has only three people total on its city council, and the lone remaining councilman was the only official who reported for work at city hall on Friday.
An alleged gambling ringleader named Ngoc Tri Nguyen is also identified in the indictment, alongside his alias “Mr. T.” Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez is accused of taking a $6,000 bribe from Mr. T in exchange for allowing his alleged illegal casino business to flourish while cracking down on his competitors. The city manager allegedly assisted with the bribery, and the mayor pro tempore and council members are accused of giving the manager a lofty salary in exchange. Finally, the council member arrested last month allegedly took part in the smuggling of illegal immigrants. Got all that, or should we run through it again?
Excluded from the allegedly nefarious dealings is councilman Joel Barajas, who you have to imagine feels both vindicated and a little left out. Barajas showed up to govern the town of 7,500 on Friday and found that all of his colleagues were gone, the Washington Post notes. “What happened is nothing to celebrate. It’s something sad that happened to us,” he told the Associated Press. “By all means, we need to move forward.”
Hopefully, come next election city, Crystal City will vote in some more honest and upstanding officials, and poor Joel Barajas will have someone to eat lunch with again.