Who is Javier Salazar, the Texas Sheriff who is investigating the Florida DeSantis government over migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard?

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The Bexar County, Texas sheriff put himself in the national spotlight Monday, announcing that his office would open an investigation into the two chartered planes allegedly sent to Martha’s vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, is allegedly investigating whether the largely Venezuelan immigrants sent to Massachusetts were promised jobs or other enticements, something DeSantis has denied.

But when I chat with people and look around online, I see that not too many people are familiar with Salazar, so let’s see who DeSantis is dealing with.

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Known ‘suspects’

At the press conference announcing his investigation, Sheriff Salazar stated:

“We are opening a case. The facts of the case at the moment are that on Wednesday 14 September here in Bexar County in the city of San Antonio, we understand that a Venezuelan migrant was paid what we might call a bird dog fee to recruit about 50 migrants. They were promised work, they were promised the solution to several of their problems. They were taken to Martha’s Vineyard for what we can collect no more than a video op and then they were unceremoniously stranded.”

Sheriff Salazar also claims that the migrants were lured to planes “under false pretenses”:

“It’s way too early for me to start naming suspects. We do have the names of some suspects that we believe are relevant in this case at this time. But I won’t say goodbye to those names. I think, to be honest, I think everyone in this conversation already knows who those names are, so I won’t name any. But suffice it to say we will open a case.”

Interesting. So why is this Texas sheriff opening a case? For those unfamiliar, Bexar County is not on the border, but is instead home to San Antonio. It is located about 150 miles north of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

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Meet Sheriff Salazar

So who is Sheriff Javier Salazar? He became sheriff of Bexar County in 2017, after many years with the San Antonio Police Department, and was re-elected in 2020.

A quick Google search finds some controversies surrounding the sheriff.

In April 2011, Deputy Armando Lopez was fired after he was found to have forged several payment vouchers from confidential informants dating from January to March 2009.

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In December 2018, Lopez was rehired by Salazar. A search for political contributions revealed that Lopez had contributed to then-candidate Javier Salazar’s campaign to be elected sheriff in 2016. Contributions totaling $4,000 stretched from December 2015 to September 2016, weeks before the election.

Salazar is also not afraid to align his elected office with his political beliefs. In June, following the Supreme Court’s decision that was annulled, Roe v. WadeSalazar announced that he would not try to sue women in San Antonio who wanted to have abortions.

He cracked down on both the Supreme Court ruling and Texas lawmakers for trying to “impose their alleged morals on others.” He added: “They will not use my badge or my office color to do that. My job is to chase predators, rapists and traffickers, not someone exercising a right.”

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Competency questions

At one point, Sheriff Salazar’s own agents didn’t appreciate him too much. In April 2019, the union representing Bexar County deputies filed a class action lawsuit against Salazar alleging it was “blatant political pandering” and also contract violations related to firing deputies.

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According to the lawsuit, Salazar has repeatedly violated the Texas Government Code and the union’s collective bargaining agreement by firing deputies arrested before investigating charges.

The deputies also point to Salazar’s disparaging statements about them. In an interview with the local TBEN affiliate, Salazar said he would give his own job performance an “A” even though he didn’t have a “Super Bowl team,” and cited the lack of training from his deputies.

In addition to Sheriff Salazar’s appeal, also in 2019, the Bexar County Jail had falsely released 12 inmates from jail in September of that year, two of them within a 12-hour period. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff noted at the time, “He tells me he’s doing everything he can and I believe he’s trying, but so many incidents in recent months are unheard of.”

At a press conference addressing the release of prisoners, Javier Salazar unknowingly sent a future vice president and stated that although there was an investigation after each release, he was still looking for the “root cause” of why they took place.

Note to Governor DeSantis, note Bexar County’s response to Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

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