FBI, Texas Rangers Raid Offices Of Bexar County's Precinct 2 Constable | Texas Public Radio

FBI, Texas Rangers Raid Offices Of Bexar County's Precinct 2 Constable

Sep 23, 2019

Bexar County Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela defended herself during a news conference Monday, several hours after Texas Rangers and FBI agents raided her Gilbeau Road office.

No charges have been filed and no arrests were made.

Vela blamed a conspiracy of top county leaders -- including the county judge, the district attorney and the sheriff -- determined to remove her from office.

“I haven't created not one problem," she said. "I have only come in here to do my job, and that is strictly what I have done.”

Vela also claimed that unidentified “higher ups” sent gang members to her home to intimidate her when she ran for constable. She said she thinks one of her tires was punctured with nails to intimidate her during the campaign.

Top county officials said there is no conspiracy against Vela.

At a press conference Monday morning, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed some of his deputies have been assigned to the FBI's anti-corruption unit to assist their investigation.

“We’ve got deputies, two now, assigned to the public corruption task force among other task forces that are there,” he said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff emphasized that Vela, an elected constable, has the right to remain in office during the investigation.

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office did not comment on the raid or the investigation.

County officials said residents in the precinct can expect JP court and law enforcement functions to continue as normal.

Vela was accused of shaking down Easter weekend county park goers for security fees earlier this year. A deputy constable filed suit against her for sex discrimination after an alleged 2017 hot tub incident in Galveston. Vela said she was innocent of all allegations.

Wolff has been critical of the constable system, and he shared that critical view on Monday.

“If it were up to me there would not be one constable left in this county or anywhere else," he said. "It’s a duplication of what the sheriff’s office would do. It’s a relic of the past that’s stuck in the constitution and most people that go to vote on these offices have no idea who they are voting on.”

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.