PROGRESO, TEXAS (ValleyCentral) — Progreso school board President Frank Alanis was arrested Friday on federal drug trafficking charges.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations arrested Frank Alanis, 40, of Progreso on Friday morning.
The indictment remained sealed Friday, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a news release that Frank Alanis is charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
“That would kind of surprise me,” said McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. “That really would.”
Villalobos, a prominent attorney who occasionally assists the city of Progreso with legal work, said he knew Frank Alanis in passing and he’d always been helpful.
Frank Alanis remained in federal custody Friday and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Francisco “Frank” Alanis and his brother, Progreso Mayor Gerardo “Jerry” Alanis, are part of a political coalition that controls Progreso.
“They keep to themselves,” said Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra.
While the Progreso Police Department occasionally asks the Sheriff’s Office for assistance, Guerra said the Alanis brothers don’t appear at county events or mingle with many other elected officials.
Hidalgo County and Progreso do cooperate on road and drainage projects, said Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes, who added that the city is always helpful.
When the county and the city work together, Progreso City Manager Alfredo Espinosa is usually the point of contact, Fuentes said, adding that Frank Alanis hadn’t been involved.
“They reach out when there’s something they think we can help with,” Fuentes said, but usually it’s Hidalgo County asking the city for assistance making contacts and connections with members of the community.
The Alanis family started consolidating power in 2013, when the FBI arrested then-school board President Michael R. Vela and then-Progreso Mayor Omar L. Vela on public corruption charges.
With the Vela brothers under federal indictment, the Alanis brothers took over Progreso. They followed a tried-and-true playbook.
Frank Alanis and his supporters on the school board worked at City Hall. Jerry Alanis and his supporters on the Board of Aldermen found jobs at the Progreso Independent School District.
If anyone crossed the Alanis brothers, they would lose the next election — and find themselves unemployed.
The system also paid dividends for the Alanis brothers.
Frank Alanis, who started working at City Hall just a few years after he graduated from Progreso High School, received a promotion to assistant city manager.
In response to a public information request, the city of Progreso could not produce a job description for Frank Alanis or any records documenting his promotion.
The city awarded Frank Alanis an $11,000 raise during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, according to documents released under the Texas Public Information Act, but claimed it couldn’t find any records showing who approved the raise or how the city settled on $11,000.
Jerry Alanis, meanwhile, found a job at Progreso ISD.
The position, computer technician, pays about $42,000 a year, according to salary information released by Progreso ISD.
Jerry Alanis couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon. He hasn’t been arrested or charged with any crime.
Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrested Frank Alanis and searched a home on the 900 block of Encino Drive on Friday morning.
The home is owned by Edith Vasquez, who married Frank Alanis in 2003, according to a marriage license filed with the Hidalgo County Clerk’s Office.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and local constables assisted federal agents with the search.
Homeland Security Investigations referred a request for comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which issued a news release.
“From January 2020 to March 20, 2022, (Frank) Alanis allegedly conspired with Jose Rosbel Salas and others to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, mainly cocaine,” according to the news release.
Salas and several other men smuggled cocaine through South Texas in 2020 and 2021, according to the indictment against them.
The bare-bones indictment doesn’t contain any details about the conspiracy, which involved more than 130 pounds of cocaine.
Salas pleaded guilty in May 2022. His attorney, Reynaldo G. Garza III of Brownsville, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Information about Frank Alanis apparently surfaced during the investigation.
A grand jury indicted Frank Alanis on Oct. 3, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He’s scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court on Monday.