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Former constable candidate arrested on DWI charge

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 8:36 pm

MERCEDES — Thinking that he was intoxicated, state troopers arrested a former Hidalgo County constable candidate whose campaign faltered after he was formally charged in a money laundering scam with ties to the Gulf Cartel.

The Texas Department of Public Safety arrested Robert Ricardo Maldonado about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, when Hidalgo County deputy constables responded to the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 491 and Mile 10 North for a reckless driver in a pickup, DPS records show.

A deputy constable stopped the driver of a Ford pickup truck that was driving on the shoulder of the road.

Constables called in DPS troopers, who arrested Maldonado after he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. He was released Thursday after posting a $1,500 bond.

Maldonado, 47, had previously been arrested in February 2012, after DPS troopers found close to $1 million in the trunk of his car during a traffic stop near Victoria.

Troopers found 108 bundles of cash in the vehicle. At the time of the arrest, Maldonado was under investigation for being a drug carrier for Mexico’s Gulf Cartel. He was released after posting a $125,000 bond.

Soon after the arrest, federal agencies raided Maldonado’s estate north of Mercedes, which had several exotic animals, a small lake and a pool.

No indictment in that case was ever filed in state district court in Victoria; the only court record that exists is a writ of habeas corpus — a court summons — setting the terms of Maldonado’s release. No federal charges have been filed against him, either.

Maldonado lost his bid for Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Constable in April 2012. He ran another unsuccessful bid for the office in 2008.

Maldonado had worked as a DPS trooper, but was fired in 1994 after he was charged with aggravated assault — a case that was later dismissed.

From 2003 to 2007, Maldonado worked as a narcotics officer with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office before leaving his post. His personnel file didn’t show any disciplinary actions.

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Ildefonso Ortiz covers courts, law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at iortiz@themonitor.com and (956) 683-4437.

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