By Jared Taylor and Naxiely Lopez
Federal agents arrested the Pharr mayor’s son after they found more than 114 pounds of marijuana inside his vehicle.
U.S. Border Patrol arrested Leo Palacios III after he pulled up to the Highway 281 checkpoint south of Falfurrias about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to a criminal complaint. After a secondary inspection, they found the pot stashed in his Mercedes E320 sedan’s trunk.
Palacios, who lives in Austin and is son of the Pharr mayor of the same name, claimed he was in the Rio Grande Valley on business.
“I did not know anything about this,” the mayor said. “All I know was that he was arrested for possession. He hasn’t called me or anything.
Agents say they were about to release Palacios from the checkpoint when he started moving his car forward slowly.
Agents tapped the side of his car and waved their hands while telling him to stop, the complaint states. Other agents yelled at him to stop and he finally complied.
A drug dog alerted to the trunk of Palacios’ car and agents asked him to move it to secondary inspection. Palacios asked the agents why he needed the inspection, saying he didn’t see the dog do anything. Another agent commanded him to move the car to secondary and Palacios complied.
At secondary, Palacios opened the car’s trunk, even though agents never told him to open it, the complaint states.
Agents looked inside the trunk and saw a blue storage bin with clothing on top of it. Inside the bin, agents found several bundles wrapped in black plastic. A slice through the plastic revealed marijuana stashed inside, according to the complaint.
Investigators arrested Palacios, who told agents he was going home to Austin and had been in San Juan for three days on business. He told the agents he is vice president of a highway road construction company and had been staying with his parents in Pharr.
Palacios then refused to say anything else to investigators, saying he wanted a lawyer.
Pharr Mayor Leo “Polo” Palacios said his son’s arrest came as a shock.
“I have no idea. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know,” the mayor said.
Mayor Palacios, who operates a drug rehabilitation clinic, said he learned of his son’s arrest from his daughter-in-law, who was worried after he never arrived in Austin late Wednesday night.
“I never thought he would be doing anything like this in my life,” the mayor said. “They were not raised that way.”
Wednesday’s arrest was not the first drug case for the younger Palacios.
He was convicted in federal court in January 1992 on cocaine possession and conspiracy charges. He received a 70-month prison sentence and was released in December 1996.
Palacios made an appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge Thursday in Corpus Christi. He remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing set for Tuesday.
The mayor said his son had lost about 50 pounds in the last six months after contracting pancreatitis. He said the younger Palacios “almost died in December” and had been taking medication for the ailment.
“I don’t know if la medicina le vuelve la cabeza o que,” the mayor said, questioning whether his medicine affected his demeanor. “I can’t tell you that myself.”