The Mayor of Crystal City, Texas was led away from a City Council meeting in handcuffs for "inciting a riot" according to police.
The incident came after Lopez and two council members were indicted in a bribery and conspiracy investigation earlier this month. The indictment accuses the town's leadership of using their positions "to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value."
And it gets worse. "One of those council members has resigned. Another faces human smuggling charges, leaving only one council member not under indictment."
"I think the whole town has gone crazy. This has never happened before," Dora Paloma, a former municipal judge, told the Express-News.
Recall efforts are underway.
The incident at the City Council meeting happened when "City Clerk Selina Ramos told the council a five-day period for Lopez and two other council members to resign or face recall elections had ended."
The Mayor disagreed with Ramos and recessed the meeting so he could return home and get documentation to support his position. But when he returned, an angry crowd was waiting for him. There was shoving and angry words which resulted in the Mayor being handcuffed and put in a patrol car.
"Only in Crystal City," Lopez told KSAT-TV in San Antonio as police led him to a patrol car as cameras rolled.
"I'm just sorry it's such a fiasco," former mayor Frank Moreno told the Express-News. "It's not good for our community.
The town made headlines last week when almost every single city official was arrested on corruption charges.
According to the indictment, city manager William James Jonas allegedly managed the bribery scheme -- in which a contractor allegedly paid over $12,000 in bribes to Jonas, as well as Mayor Pro Tem Rogelio Mata; his brother, Councilman Roel Mata; and former Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo -- in exchange for their votes to approve a city contract. Moreover, Nguyen allegedly made payments directly to Mayor Ricardo Lopez in exchange for other official acts from both Lopez and Jonas.
Further, the feds allege that Jonas cooked up a kickback scheme with a local attorney in which the attorney would pay Jonas a portion of legal fees when an individual or business sought out a contract with the city. In exchange, the feds say that Lopez, Urrabazo and the Mata brothers then voted to award a lucrative contract to Jonas to serve as both city manager and city attorney for Crystal City.
Jonas blames his political problems on the failure of political party, La Raza.
For his part, Jonas is not talking, but appears to be blaming his political woes on the "failure of Chicano political movement," according to a self-written publicity bio obtained by the San Antonio Express-News. The newspaper reported that he planned to circulate it to conservative news outlets.
In 1970, a group of Latinos in Crystal City formed La Raza Unida Party as an attempt to gain government representation in a community where they made up the majority but had little political power. For a few years, the party went on to influence Texas politics more broadly.
Jonas' bio, according to the newspaper, blamed the party for "machinations, corruption and influence that keeps poor communities poor and steeped in crime.”
In a separate incident, another City Council member "Marco Rodriguez, was arrested on human smuggling charges. According to local news station KENS, Rodriguez admitted to being paid to transport undocumented immigrants on multiple occasions. Crystal City, southwest of San Antonio, sits about 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border."
Crystal City, Texas is a town of approximately 7,000 people and is otherwise known as "The Spinach Capital of the World."