Connecting the Cortinas Dots

cortinas-dotsAs you all know, I like to connect the political and corrupt dots for you. In today’s edition I am going to show you how engrained the political system is in El Paso. It involves a family that is well-connected politically and how the local political system enables the many problems the community faces. There is no doubt that El Paso is rampant with public corruption in all levels of government. If you doubt it, then explain to everyone how is it that El Paso has had more than 40 political officials implicated, indicted and jailed on public corruption charges. All of these within the last ten years and as recent as last month.

The cases of public corruption involve many politicos that are elected over and over again. The corruptors are placed in office by an electorate the decries the heavy taxes and political shenanigans but continues to vote for politicians like Jaime Esparza who has yet to successfully prosecute a single case of public corruption out of the many that have been prosecuted by outside investigative agencies. Or politicos like Jose Rodriguez that presided over the County’s legal department for many years, although county monies were corruptly walking out the very door that he entered each day on his way to work.

It is not that the electorate isn’t wise to the corruption but rather that they have understood that it is a battle they can never win. So instead of fighting the system, they play along hoping to remain under the radar of the corruptors. The reason is that a culture of corruption exists within the community and as such corruption is a way of life. As if that wasn’t bad enough consider the sad fact that many in Cd. Juárez have died and continue to die for control of the drug corridor that mysteriously ceases to exist once the drugs cross into the United States.

I write “ceases to exist” not because the drugs vanish into thin air, but because they just don’t seem to be on law enforcements’ radar once they enter El Paso on the way to the drug markets. It is as if the drug cartels have willing law enforcement accomplices enabling them past El Paso and into the rest of the nation.

As I have shown you before, on August 27, 1999, George DeAngelis, then an El Paso Police Assistant Chief, received information that the personal administrative assistant to then police chief Carlos Leon was providing tactical assistance to the Mexican drug cartel in Juárez. As you likely know, Carlos Leon is a County Commissioner today. Leon, instead of investigating the allegations against his personal assistant, instead started a vendetta against DeAngelis, the individual that had brought forth credible evidence that the drug cartels had infiltrated the El Paso Police Department. Who was the chief’s personal administrative assistant?

It is Luis Cortinas.

Although Carlos Leon reassigned Luis Cortinas on September 1, 1999, no investigation of his alleged collaboration with Mexican drug cartels was ever conducted by the El Paso Police Department. The FBI closed its investigation of Cortinas because the FBI told DeAngelis that it did not want to “damage its working relationship” with the El Paso Police Department.

Remember the FBI Agent in Charge for El Paso, Hardrick Crawford, Jr. who was convicted in 2006 for lying to the federal government about his association to individuals in Cd. Juárez that have been implicated in drug trafficking? Although Crawford did not show up in El Paso until 2001, almost two years after DeAngelis received the information about Cortinas, Crawford’s conviction shows a continuing pattern of drug cartel influence over law enforcement in El Paso. Keep in mind that Crawford was the El Paso FBI Agent in Charge for less than three years but in that time he created an international incident by advocating for someone that had been implicated by Mexican officials for many years as being in the drug trade. Crawford’s involvement does not happen overnight and the short amount of time it took for him to cozy up to someone that law enforcement must have had serious doubts about, shows that a culture of questionable practices permeated throughout the law enforcement entities of that time.

So why do I bring up Luis Cortinas again today?

As I have been trying to demonstrate to you over the years, nothing happens in a vacuum. To keep corruption in play, a conspiracy or a like-minded group of individuals must work together to keep the process in play. I have already showed you where Carlos Leon fits into this puzzle. Another dot that frequently comes into play is current El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles. He is another dot that is connected to this as well. Notice where each of them fits in the connecting dots today?

This bring us back to Cortinas. However let’s first look at his daughter, Taylor Cortinas.

As you know by my previous post, “The Taylor Cortinas Saga,” Taylor Cortinas was a former staffer for Claudia Ordaz who was fired by the City. Before Cortinas, the daughter, was fired by the City, after one of Ordaz’ staffers documented a series of activities about Taylor Cortinas that include unprofessional conduct to corruption. The documentation lists instances of improperly dressing for work at the city to falsifying time cards and keeping tickets in violation of city policy. Falsifying time cards and keeping tickets are corrupt practices.

In November of 2015, the City fired Taylor Cortinas.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. There have been persistent rumors that a city email account in Cortney Niland’s office was tampered or hacked into. Claudia Ordaz has publicly acknowledged that she was investigated by the El Paso Police Department about an email incident. As of now, all we know is that a police investigation was conducted but the results have not been made public.

So now we have a father-and-daughter team who worked at the City and left under questionable circumstances. Ok, so it might be a coincidence? Maybe so, but let’s connect a few more dots.

Look at the list of individuals that Luis Cortinas lists on his resume. Greg Allen, El Paso’s current Police Chief. Oscar Leeser, the current mayor of El Paso. Joyce Wilson, the former city manager heavily involved in the controversy over the ballpark and the unexplained additional cost to the taxpayers of $20+ millions. I am sure you wouldn’t be surprised to find Richard Wiles on the list. Or how about Tripper Goodman? But of course, it will likely not surprise you to find on the list Veronica Escobar.

But Luis Cortinas’ resume doesn’t just end with the list of prominent El Paso leaders. As if reminding each of them of his place on the food chain, the elder Cortinas lists which campaigns he was worked on. Among them are Joe Wardy, Richard Wiles, Oscar Leeser, Chente Quintanilla, Claudia Ordaz and Veronica Escobar.

As a matter of fact, Luis Cortinas’ two-page resume from last year uses only five lines to showcase his experience and the rest to list a showcase of El Paso politicos and work that Cortinas has done for them. Clearly, the resume is intended to convey the clear message that Luis Cortinas is well connected to the El Paso political establishment.

As you decry the low voter turnout and the continued election of questionable characters into office look at this set of two dots and see how they interconnect with the El Paso political establishment. Now, take these two dots and apply the same technique to those that are continuously in power and I believe you will clearly see why El Paso voters have clearly ceded to the culture of corruption.

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