State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, dropped an envelope containing cocaine at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in September, an act that officials say they caught on camera, an affidavit says.
Nevárez, who announced last week that he would not seek reelection next year, said in a statement Thursday, “The news is true.”
“I do not have anyone to blame but myself,” he said. “In a weird way I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that. I have many relationships to repair starting at home and I intend to seek treatment.”
Nevárez has not been charged with a crime. The affidavit says Texas Department of Public Safety officials believe DNA evidence they collected through a search warrant will confirm he was carrying cocaine.
Four cotton swabs with Nevárez’s DNA have been sent to a crime lab for testing, the court documents say.
The affidavit, which was filed Oct. 29 in Travis County, says four small, clear plastic bags containing a white, powder-like substance were found Sept. 6 inside a sealed envelope outside the entrance of the Texas Department of Transportation Flight Services at the airport. That section of the airport is used by state officials, employees and those traveling on official state business.
“Using his own letterhead envelope,” the affidavit says, Nevárez sealed the substance, which later tested positive for cocaine.
Surveillance footage from the same day showed Nevárez getting into a black SUV and dropping a white paper object, the affidavit says.
The affidavit said a search warrant would allow investigators to determine whether Nevárez’s DNA was on the envelope.
Between 1 and 4 grams of cocaine were found in the envelope, the affidavit says. Possession of that amount of cocaine is a third-degree felony in Texas, which is punishable by two to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.
The affidavit was first posted on the conservative website Direct Action Texas on Wednesday night.
Nevárez had said he would not run for reelection because of “how important family and health is in all this.”
“I must heal up for the rest of what may come in my life,” he said in the statement last week. “So, it is time to come home.”
Two days before that, Nevárez deactivated his Facebook page. In a statement, Nevárez seemed to blame the deactivation on a lack of trust in Facebook, saying Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that “he has no interest in the truth when it comes to target messaging or otherwise.”
The Texas Democratic Party issued a statement Thursday on the revelations.
“Addiction is a serious issue and it’s important for people to access the help they need moving forward,” the party said. “Rep. Nevárez is taking responsibility and seeking the help he needs. We wish the best to him and his family during his recovery.”
Wishing my friend, @poncho_nevarez and his family strength & love to make it thru. I have no doubt you can. Take care of yourself—the people who love you are counting on you to get better.#txlege
— Gina Hinojosa (@GinaForAustin) November 14, 2019 His House colleagues were slow to react to the news on social media, but Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, tweeted her support for Nevárez.
“Wishing my friend, @poncho_nevarez and his family strength & love to make it thru. I have no doubt you can,” she tweeted. “Take care of yourself—the people who love you are counting on you to get better.”
Chris Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement that by not seeking reelection, Nevárez “will be better able to focus his attention on his family and his health, which is where it should be.”
Nevárez, who has represented House District 74 since 2013, chairs the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.