By Samantha Manning
For a third time in less than two months, Daniel Salinas pleaded not guilty, this time to 18 counts of fraud and receiving illegal kickbacks while serving as mayor pro-tem.
During Monday's court appearance, the Dona Ana County district attorney's office revealed that the state is investigating Salinas on allegations that he may have connections with drug cartels in Mexico.
"That is what we are hearing, is that Mr. Salinas has ties to the drug cartel," Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando said.
"That is ludicrous," Salinas' Defense Attorney Joshua Spencer said. "I mean, I haven't received, they haven't given any indication of that."
Orlando said the case is still ongoing.
Orlando said that the fact that Salinas was able to make bond the first two times, totaling around $55,000, raises some red flags.
"The lifestyle that Mr. Salinas lives and knowing that his only income was that of the mayor pro-tem seems to substantiate some of those allegations," Orlando said.
A district judge reduced Salinas' bond from $1 million to $250,000 cash.
Salinas was first arrested in February on extortion charges after allegedly blackmailing his opponent in the mayoral race with the release of a video of him with a topless dancer.
Salinas was also arrested last month on bribery charges for allegedly giving the acting police chief his position in exchange for convincing an opponent of one his supporters in City Council to drop out of the race.
"What I've talked to with Mr. Salinas is that there's nothing he can't explain," Spencer said.
If Salinas bonds out, he will be put on house arrest.