EDCOUCH, TEXAS (ValleyCentral) — The Texas Department of Public Safety charged an Edcouch city administrator with two misdemeanors last week after he was caught with marijuana and a loaded gun.
Assistant Edcouch City Manager Ernesto “Ernie” Rosales is charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon and possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana.
“I smoke marijuana. It’s not recreational. I smoke it for medical reasons,” Rosales said. “I do understand that we live in a state that doesn’t condone it.”
Rosales said he began smoking marijuana after being diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, because he didn’t want to keep taking prescription painkillers.
“It’s something that I smoke at night before I go to bed,” Rosales said. “And sometimes in the morning to get me going.”
Rosales headed to Dallas on Oct. 3 for the annual Texas Municipal League conference.
“My vehicle was going to be in the shop,” Rosales said, so he borrowed a truck assigned to Edcouch police Chief Mark Leal.
Rosales headed north on U.S. 77.
When he stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint near Sarita, agents requested permission to search the truck.
Agents discovered two vape pens that contained THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, and a joint.
Rosales said he admitted the vape pens contained THC and told the agents that he’d been diagnosed with lupus.
Agents also confiscated a gun Rosales brought with him.
“They asked me if I had any weapons on me,” Rosales recalled. “I said: ‘Yes, I carry a gun on me at all times. It’s in my back pocket.’”
After unloading the gun, agents told Rosales he would be arrested.
“And I said: ‘Not a problem. You know, it’s not the first time,’” Rosales said.
Border Patrol contacted the Department of Public Safety, which dispatched a state trooper to the checkpoint.
The trooper charged Rosales with unlawfully carrying a weapon, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor.
People charged with Class A and Class B misdemeanors are usually booked at a county jail.
The checkpoint is located in Kenedy County, which contracts with Kleberg County to hold inmates.
Kleberg County, however, had limited capacity on Oct. 3 and declined to accept Rosales, said Staff Sgt. Rob Mallory, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
Since jail wasn’t an option, the trooper simply cited Rosales on the misdemeanor charges and released him.
Rosales resumed his trip and returned to the Rio Grande Valley last week.
Edcouch Mayor Virginio “Virgil” Gonzalez Jr. said he knew Rosales had been arrested but wasn’t sure what, if any, action the city would take.
“It’s a personal matter,” Gonzalez said. “So we need to figure out what we’re going to do.”