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Ex-Texas sheriff gets sentence reduced for racketeering

September 18, 2018

LAREDO, Texas (AP) — A federal judge reduced the sentence of a former South Texas sheriff who headed a criminal enterprise that protected drug traffickers and took thousands of dollars in bribes.

Former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu’s new release date, Sept. 28, 2020, is nearly six years earlier than his old one and is based on new sentencing guidelines, the Brownsville Herald reported. He was county sheriff from January 2001 until December 2004.

Cantu was originally sentenced in 2005 to more than 24 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to leading a criminal enterprise engaged in extortion, drug trafficking, obstruction of state and local law enforcement efforts, witness tampering and bribery. U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo in August ordered Cantu’s sentence to be reduced to 17.5 years motion because the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2014 changed how sentencing guidelines are calculated for drug offenses.

The federal commission has allowed the changes to apply retroactively, affecting Cantu’s sentence. Cantu was previously scheduled to be released in 2026.

Cantu acknowledged that he solicited and extorted bribes from drug traffickers while serving as county sheriff in exchange for protection from investigations and raids. The former sheriff also admitted to protecting illegal gambling den owners.

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Information from: The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com

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