Crime

Sweetwater commission candidate who bemoaned corruption accused of cocaine dealing

Sweetwater City Commission candidate Jose Mejia, pictured in a campaign photo and a jail mugshot, was arrested Friday and charged with cocaine trafficking.
Sweetwater City Commission candidate Jose Mejia, pictured in a campaign photo and a jail mugshot, was arrested Friday and charged with cocaine trafficking. - Mejia campaign, Miami-Dade Corrections

A Sweewater City Commission candidate who has bemoaned the town’s long history of political corruption was arrested Friday on allegations that he was dealing cocaine.

Jose Mejia, 29, was arrested at his Sweetwater home and charged with three counts of cocaine trafficking. Two other men, Christopher Laboy, 24, and Angel Bedecia Campo, 63, were also arrested and charged.

The arrest was made by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which had help from Sweetwater police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Miami-Dade prosecutors. FDLE did not release details of the investigation, saying only that it began after agents got “information from a confidential source.”

Mejia was booked into a Miami-Dade jail late Friday. It was unclear if he had a defense lawyer.

The candidate maintained an active campaign website and Twitter page, but is not on Tuesday’s general election ballot. Sweetwater is not scheduled for an election until 2019. He is challenging Sweetwater Commissioner Manuel Duasso.

On his website, Mejia said Sweetwater was plagued “by political corruption and the fact that we keep voting for the same old individuals with a bunch of empty promises and no ambition.”

Mejia also ran in 2017, placing last in one race for the Sweetwater commission. He garnered only 178 votes. Afterward, a South Florida blogger accused Mejia of placing phony Craigslist ads in his name with his phone number. One ad was for selling puppies, the other for a free dishwasher giveaway.

Sweetwater police looked into the case but did not arrest him.

Mejia has run into drug problems before.

In 2017, Mejia was arrested in Collier County after a traffic stop revealed $6,000 worth of marijuana found inside his 2014 Chevrolet Cruz. He agreed to enter a one-year drug program that allowed for the charges to be dropped if he completed treatment.

Sweetwater has a long history of political corruption. Most recently, a group of police officers was arrested and charged with a laundry list of crimes, cases that are still awaiting trial. Many of the crimes stemmed from a twisted relationship with a tow company that worked in cahoots with cops to shake down motorists.

The city’s most high-profile arrest was that of former Mayor Manuel “Manny” Marono, who in 2014 was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for corruption.

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