MCALLEN — Federal authorities said they arrested the second ranking officer of a South Texas sheriff’s office who was also the head of an embattled drug-fighting unit.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said Hidalgo County sheriff’s Commander Jose “Joe” Padilla was arrested early Tuesday on federal charges of money laundering and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana.

Padilla headed the Panama Unit, the target of a broad federal investigation in which nine law enforcement officers were convicted of conspiring with drug traffickers to steal drugs from rival gangs and resell the narcotics.

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