EDINBURG — A bong, a blanket and a hot plate were among the few signs of life found at an apartment complex connected to the mayor here just a few hours after federal authorities apprehended about 20 immigrants Monday afternoon.
Apartment No. 15 on the 2400 block of East Rogers Road sat empty about 6 p.m. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom living space was not furnished, but for a pile of trash gathered in the middle of what appeared to be a living room.
Three toothbrushes, several belts and other miscellaneous objects were strewn about the apartment that still emitted a musty odor about two hours after federal authorities raided the apparent stash house.
U.S. Border Patrol agents enlisted the help of the office of Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Constable J.R. Gaitan to carry out the raid.
“I can’t really elaborate too much because we’re still investigating the case,” Gaitan said. “And we just assisted the agency.”
The apartment complex is owned by a partnership between Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and one of his brothers, Molina confirmed Monday evening. A search of public records indicated the mayor owns several tracts of land in the vicinity, but it was difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the apartments.
Molina and the new Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Joey Treviño, were in Austin on Monday meeting with state legislators in search of funding for road and drainage improvements for the city. They met with State Rep. Terry Canales and James Bass, the executive director for the Texas Department of Transportation, according to a social media post from Canales.
“I’m trying to fix the drainage problems that the previous leaders neglected,” Molina said via text Monday.
The mayor said his brother had notified him “something had happened,” but stressed he does not run the complex or its operations.
“This is an incident allegedly involving a tenant, not myself or my family and not our apartment complex,” Molina said. “Neither I, nor my family are in any way tied to the immigrants found in the apartment. We have not been contacted by authorities.
“I don’t operate them, lease them…I’m not involved. We are not responsible, in any way, for what a tenant of the apartment complex does inside his or her home.”
A woman living in the apartment underneath the apparent stash house, who identified herself as Donna Tamez, said she helps rent out the living spaces. She declined to give details surrounding the lease for Apt. 15, but a man who appeared to be her husband said a couple had rented the space about a week ago.
“We’re going to paint it tomorrow,” he said about the apartment.
Monitor staff writer Molly Smith contributed to this report.