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February 26, 2001

Police continue hunt for suspects in drug round-up

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 26, 2001 - Local law enforcement agencies are continuing to look for suspects in connection with an investigation that led to a major sweep and over a dozen arrests around Pecos on Friday.
"We're continuing with the investigation and there will be more arrests," said Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney about the raids, which involved a series of teams of area law enforcement agents who fanned out around Pecos beginning just before sunrise.
The teams included Pecos Police officers and Reeves County Sheriff's Department deputies, as well as officers from other area agencies, including the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, 143rd District Attorney's office, U.S. Border Patrol, West Texas Narcotics Task Force and the Lee County, N.M. Drug Task Force.
"We're very pleased with the turnout in the apprehension of these individuals," said McKinney.
Most of the arrests were separate incidents, where officers were able to get in contact with the known drug dealers and smugglers within the Pecos area and made drug purchases from these dealers, according to McKinney.
"These arrests will make a huge impact, because we're sending a message to the drug dealers," said McKinney. "It tells them that we're always out there, that there are dedicate individuals on the job."
McKinney said that there were also some weapons seized when search warrants were served and that the individuals arrested are facing state weapons charges at this time.
A full list of charges was unavailable at press time on Friday, but Sheriff's Department officials today identified those arrested in the separate narcotics search warrants as Diane Salas, 32, who was charged with delivery of a controlled substance; Bobby Olivas, 25, possession of a controlled substance; Jesse Ephriam, 50, possession of marijuana under two ounces; Dewayne Walker, 38, possession of a controlled substance; Joel Mendoza, 19, possession of a controlled substance; Tressa Jenkins, 21, possession of a controlled substance; Josie Varela, 43, delivery of a controlled substance; Amelia Montes, 23 possession of a controlled substance; Enrique Sais, 49 was arrested on a Motion to Revoke for an original charge of burglary of a building; Dorothy Smith Walker, 46, possession of a controlled substance; Roberto Garcia Mendoza, 42 was arrested on a Motion to Adjudicate, possession of a controlled substance; Fernando Orona, 41, delivery of a controlled substance; Gabriel Martinez Ramirez, 30, Motion to Revoke and Grace Gurule, 29, delivery of a controlled substance.
Most of those arrested were picked up at their homes and then transported to Reeves County Jail, though at least one was arrested at his place of business Friday morning and a juvenile was arrested at the Lamar campus on the north side of Pecos. The adults were transported to Reeves County Jail, while the teen was taken to the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center.
McKinney said the motion to revoke charges resulted from earlier incidents
"There are more arrests coming, stemming from our investigation," said McKinney. A total of 15 out of the 22 people sought by police were apprehended on Friday.
"This investigation was an ongoing undercover narcotics investigation that we've been working on diligently," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards. "Most of these drugs are coming into the community through Mexico, since we're so close to the border."
Richards said that their main goal is to stop the flow of drugs into the community. "This will also impact the Midland-Odessa area, where there's also a steady flow of narcotics," he said. A major round up of suspects on drug charges was conducted on Thursday in Odessa.
Richards said they want to stop this flow and send a message to the major drug dealers in the West Texas area.

City, county able to avoid post-holiday slump in jobs

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 26, 2001 - January's unemployment figures produced some good news for Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City, as both was hit only slightly by the normal post-Christmas trend of rising unemployment rates, while adding over 175 new jobs to the local labor force.
The county's jobless rate was up two-tenths of a percent in January, from 7.5 to 7.7 percent, while the city's unemployment rate rose from 8.6 to 8.8 percent last month, according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday. That compared with an increase of half a percent for the Permian Basin as a whole, seven-tenths of a percent for all of Texas and eight-tenths of a percent for the Midland-Odessa area, which saw the most layoffs in the region due to businesses cutting staff after the Christmas shopping period.
Reeves County's labor force grew from 6,820 workers in December to 7,030 last month, while the number of jobs climbed from 6,307 to 6,488, the TWC said. The local labor force is down by 150 from January of 2000, but the total number of jobs in the county is up by 30, which has allowed unemployment to decline from 11.3 percent a year ago.
In Pecos, the total number of jobs in January was 5,006, while there were 5,491 people in the city's labor force. In December, there were 5,325 in the labor force and 4,866 with jobs, while a year ago the workforce included 5,718 people, with 4,982 of those employed.
Continued improvement in the local oil and gas industry has helped the area improve on its jobless rates over the past two years, and while most cities and counties did see a rise in unemployment last month, all are down sharply from January 2000's totals.
Midland has added 1,600 jobs in the past year and has seen its unemployment drop 2.2 percent; Odessa's job total is up by nearly 1,200 from a year ago while unemployment has fallen from 8.1 to 5.1 percent. Unemployment rates for Andrews and Monahans are down four percent, Kermit was down three percent and Fort Stockton two percent from last January, though all four towns suffered a slight loss in jobs, the TWC reported.
Meanwhile, based on the Workforce Commission's numbers, Loving County's labor force is booming. The nation's least populated county only had 106 in their workforce a year ago; that was up to 145 in January, while the total number of jobs has grown from 99 to 138, dropping unemployment from 6.6 to 4.8 percent.
At the other end of the scale, Presidio County continues to have the state's highest jobless rate. Unemployment there grew from 24.7 percent in December to 26.4 percent last month, though that's still well below the 31.8 percent reported in January 2000.
Employment within the county has fallen in the past year by over 400 jobs, but the local workforce has declined by more than 750 during that same span. And January's numbers are up from December, when the county's labor force was down by 1,000 and the total number of jobs was off by 550 from the start of the year.

Eagles take 7th at state swim finals

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 26, 2001 - Pecos was well represented at the state capital this weekend when the Pecos High School Swim team made waves at the Class 4A & under State Swimming and Diving Competition.
Both the boys and girls teams traveled to Austin to compete in the second annual state meet for non-Class 5A schools, with the boys finishing seventh overall with 86 points while picking up a third place relay and second place individual medal for the second year in a row.
"I thought we did a good job," Eagles' Head Coach Terri Morse said. "I'm real proud of the kids."
Morse said she and the team had expected this year's meet to be faster than last year's and were focused on going and improving their times.
"It was a little faster than we anticipated," Morse said.
The Eagles finished two spots lower than a year ago, when they placed fifth in the inaugural Class 4A state championships. Southlake Carroll won Saturday's finals with 192 points to runner-up Cedar Park's 169. Except for Pecos, all of the Top 10 finishers were from big city or suburban schools.
"It's tough when you get down there," she said. "People are there to swim and swim fast."
Morse said that the kids were able to go and seriously compete with the tough teams.
Pecos was also represented the region well on the final day of swimming.
"We had the most kids in finals out of our region," Morse said.
Morse said she believes her swimmers have had a great year and believes that next year the kids will push themselves more to get faster.
"I thought the kids had an awesome year," she said. "I think our kids realized that they had to get faster."
"We got faster because we had to get faster," Morse said. "That's what you have to do to compete."
Morse said that she hopes to raise the level for not only high school swimming but also age group and junior high swimming.
Morse said she is real pleased with the way the swimmers competed at state and also said that a few team goals were broken which not only pleased her but also the team.

Balmorhea boys fall in playoffs to Westbrook

PECOS, February 26, 2001 - The Balmorhea Bears' boys' basketball team saw the Westbrook Mustangs break open a close game in the third quarter on Friday, and go on to score a 76-53 win over the Bears in the area round of the Class A-Division II playoffs.
The Bears trailed by only one point after the first period and were down by just a 35-27 margin at the half when they were outscored by Westbrook 24-8 in the third period, to balloon the Mustangs' lead up to 24 points.
Westbrook went on to claim the Division II-Section III title on Saturday with a 74-61 victory over D'Hannis. Balmorhea ended its 2000-2001 season with a 17-4 record.


PECOS, February 26, 2001 - High Sunday 74. Low this morning 37. Forecast for tonight: Cloudy with scattered showers. Areas of fog after midnight. Low 40 to 45. South wind 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain is 30 percent. Tuesday: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers and a few thunderstorms. High 65 to 70. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph becoming northeast late. Chance of rain is 30 percent. Tuesday night: Cloudy with scattered showers. Low 35 to 40. Chance of rain is 30 percent.

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