Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
March 5, 2001
Pecos trio among 15 linked to drug ring
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - Three men from Pecos are among 15 persons arrested
by local law enforcement agencies late last week as part of an investigation
that began two years ago into a major drug smuggling operation in West
The 15 people are accused of helping smuggle tons of marijuana into
the United States through their involvement in two closely linked West
Texas drug rings.
"All of the defendants are related by blood or marriage," said John
C. Kelley, U.S. Customs Service Special Agent in Charge in El Paso. "They
operated in remote and isolated areas, thus creating a challenge for Customs
The arrests took place on Thursday, beginning before dawn, when agents
with the United States Customs Service, Drug Enforcement Administration,
United States Marshals Service, Pecos Police Department and the Odessa
Police Department began picking up the suspects in Odessa, Pecos, Presidio,
Monahans, Alpine, Breckenridge, and Hobbs, N.M.
The arrests occurred after a federal grand jury in Midland returned
a 12-count sealed indictment on Wednesday, Feb. 21 charging 24-year-old
Jose "Josecin" Sanchez of Presidio, (the alleged leader of the organization)
and 11 other people with transporting some one to two tons of marijuana
from Ojinaga, Mexico, to Odessa.
The indictment, unsealed last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Durwood
Edwards in Alpine, contains a charge of conspiracy to possess with the
intent to distribute a controlled substance and substantive charges of
possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
It alleges that the defendants, operating between June 1998 and December
1999, smuggled hundreds of pounds of marijuana at a time across the Rio
Grande at various low water spots near Presidio. After concealing the marijuana
inside vehicles, they transported it to Odessa. The indictment also alleges
that in carrying out their distribution scheme, the defendants would also
use "scout" vehicles to alert the "load" drivers to open checkpoints or
law enforcement presence on the highway. If convicted, the defendants face
between 10 years and life in Federal prison.
"There were two separate indictments and one of them has to do with
Pecos," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras of Midland.
The arrested defendants named in this first indictment (Jose Sanchez
Isidro Sanchez, a.k.a. "Chilo," 42, who was arrested in Presidio; Yesenia
Sanchez, 29, arrested in Presidio; Carlos Molinar Sanchez, 23, arrested
in Alpine; Christina Rios, 28, arrested in Odessa; Rachel Borunda, 32,
arrested in Odessa and Carlos Huerta, 24, arrested in Odessa.
Five other defendants named in the indictment were already in custody
on unrelated charges. They include: Jose "Josecin" Sanchez; 33-year-old
Javier Sanchez of Odessa; 26-year-old Michelle Porras of Odessa; 49-year-old
Jose Gonzalez-Montanez of Midland and 20-year-old Jose Sotelo of Odessa.
Clay Sanchez, of Chihuahua, Mexico, remains a fugitive in this case.
In the second case, the federal grand jury also returned a 21-count
indictment against 14 individuals for conspiring together to transport
some three to four tons of marijuana from Ojinaga, Mexico, through Presidio
and into Pecos and Odessa.
The indictment contains alleges that this group primarily moved their
marijuana to Pecos where it was stored in underground concrete bunkers
before being distributed to various places in the United States.
This indictment contains charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent
to distribute a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled
substance, and substantive counts of possession with the intent to distribute
a controlled substance. If convicted, the defendants face between 10 years
and life in Federal prison.
The arrested defendants named in this indictment include:
Jose Alfredo Jimenez, a.k.a. "Freddy," 26, arrested in Odessa; Ariel
Pando, 25, of Pecos; Yesenia Estrella, 24, who was arrested in Breckenridge,
but is a former Pecos resident; Servando Sanchez, 48, arrested in Hobbs,
N.M.; Marcia Sanchez, 48, arrested in Monahans; Catalina Gonzalez Sanchez,
33, arrested in Odessa; Karina Acosta-Sanchez, 25, arrested in Presidio;
Jeannie Llanez, 28, arrested in Alpine and Arturo Valdez, 21, arrested
Three other defendants charged in this indictment were already in custody
on unrelated charges. They include 22-year-old Benjamin Montano, Thomas
Herrera and Gregorio Navarrette, 46, all of Pecos.
"Herrera is out on bond and he will be kept on the same conditions in
Mildand," said Parras. "We will keep the same agreement with him, that
he is currently under."
Montano is currently in jail in Big Spring, while Navarrette is in jail
"These are further allegations and all of it will be taken care of in
Midland," said Parras.
"There are other minors involved, but because they were minors at the
time, they have not been charged in federal court," said Parras.
Parras said that under federal statutes the minors have not been charged
federally. "Under federal law, if they are under 18, they are still considered
minors," said Parras.
"There are at least three minors that have not been charged in federal
court," he said.
The second indictment also charges Isidro Sanchez, Javier Sanchez and
Joe Sanchez, who were named in the other indictment. It is alleged that
the three either drove or escorted loads of marijuana for both organizations.
One person named, Clay Sanchez, of Chihuahua, Mexico, remains a fugitive.
"Some of the names remain sealed, there is a possibility of future arrests.
It depends on whether or not those fugitives are found," said Parras.
Parras said that either these fugitives didn't know they were being
sought or did not want to respond.
The arrests stem after an investigation uncovered two separate bunkers
in Pecos, one found 2½ miles north of Pecos, where over 700 pounds
of marijuana was located.
"A subsequent bunker was located on the outskirts of Pecos in an abandoned
residence where over 125 pounds of marijuana was found," said Parras.
"I commend the agents, not only on their outstanding investigation of
these case, but also in effecting the arrests, tracking down and apprehending
these defendants all across West Texas and Southern New Mexico in a swift
manner," said United States Attorney Bill Blagg.
"This was a complex investigation for U.S. Customs. All of the defendants
are related by blood or marriage. They operated in remote and isolated
areas thus creating a challenge for Customs investigators attempting to
learn more about the group," said Kelley. "The fact that we were able to
arrest 15 people without incident illustrates the professionalism of the
Customs agents and other law enforcement personnel that assisted in the
Both indictments result from a two-year investigation by the United
States Customs Service, and the Pecos Police Department. Assistant United
States Attorney Jeff Parras is prosecuting these cases on behalf of the
Government. These investigations continue and more arrests are anticipated.
Pena says class helps emergency preparedness
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - Members of the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department
(PVFD) are better prepared for major disasters that might occur in Pecos
and the surrounding area thanks to a four day course on the Incident Command
System held last week at the Reeves County Civic Center.
The PVFD hosted the course for emergency responders from Pecos and surrounding
Fire Chief Roy Pena said that a few local firefighters attended the
classes with some representing Southern Union Gas, Texas New Mexico Power
Company, Reeves County Sheriff's Department, Reeves County, the Town of
Pecos City and a few firefighters from Wickett.
Pena said that the classes, taught by Dallas Renfrow, former president
of the Texas State Fire Marshall's Association, helped them identify who
would be in charge in case of any major disasters.
"What it teaches us is in a major disaster call who is in charge," he
said. It's preparing you for the unexpected."
The course is described in a manual that was handed out for the classes
as a course "designed to meet the needs of fire officers and managers with
responsibilities to use, deploy, implement, and/or function within an Incident
Command System (ICS)."
Although the course was designed more for what firefighters would do
in a disaster situation, Pena said that any emergency responders were invited
to join including Emergency Medical Service personnel even school district
and hospital district personnel in addition to the city, county and law
"We all need to work together," Pena said.
Pena said that the fire department has already been implementing the
incident command system but the course helped teach them in more detail
the benefits of having an ICS.
Pena explained that in case of a major disaster there would be a command
center in which emergency officials would meet and work together to issue
instructions for the emergency personnel.
"There has to be an incident command center set," he said.
The course also offered an explanation of all the responsibilities of
the incident commander for each department.
Pena explained that in case of any accident, fire or disaster the incident
commander is responsible for everyone on site including emergency responders
and any on lookers.
Pena said that the course went very well and he plans on taking all
the information back to the Volunteer Fire Department's assembly to teach
those who did not attend what they need to know.
"We're going to master this book, " he said. "We don't want to be caught
off guard, we want to do it right."
Second Assistant to the Chief Arturo Granado said that the class was
informational and interesting.
"It's going to benefit the department," he said.
Granado said with the possibility of Amtrak routing its trains through
Pecos as well as numerous trucks carrying radioactive waste en route to
the WIPP site in New Mexico there is are additional possibilities for disaster
that the city and county needs to be prepared for.
"There's a big potential of us having a major disaster," he said.
Pena and Granado both said the class was very worthwhile but they both
wished more people had participated.
"We did enjoy this class, it was very beneficial to us," Granado said.
"I just wish a lot more people had attended the class."
Council told approval given by UP for Rodeo Hall lease
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - The Town of Pecos City Council gave tentative
approval to all legal documents pertaining to the Municipal Law Enforcement
Center during a special meeting at noon on Friday, though the members were
unable to fully review the documents, which only arrived at City Hall late
Council members were also told during the meeting that the next step
has been taken in the effort to develop a Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame Museum
in downtown Pecos, with approval of a lease agreement on the old Missouri-Pacific
City Attorney Scott Johnson reported to the Council that he received
the final documents on the new Law Enforcement Center earlier that morning
and would distribute copies to the council Friday afternoon.
Johnson said since the documents had not come in until that morning
he would recommend for the Council to approved the form of agreements subject
to the approval of Johnson and City Manager Carlos Yerena.
Yerena informed the Council that the documents covered everything that
has already been discussed.
"This is just the final documentation," he said.
Johnson said he would get copies of the documents to the Council that
afternoon so they would have all weekend to review them and if they had
any questions they could call him or Yerena.
The Council approved the form of agreements subject to Johnson's and
Johnson said next step is approval by the attorney general before construction
The facility will be built along the north access road of Interstate
20 between Texas and Moore streets. It is designed to hold almost 100 inmates
and will also serve as the new home of the Pecos Police Department.
As a side note, Johnson reported to the Council that just before the
meeting he received word that Union Pacific Railroad had approved a 20-year
lease to the city for the old railroad depot.
The city has made plans to place the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame in the
depot and had already acquired the building, but did not own the land at
the foot of Oak Street the building is located on.
"Things are looking pretty good," Johnson said. The lease agreement
was needed before the city and the Pecos Chamber of Commerce could begin
attempting to secure grants for development of the Hall of Fame.
The council is scheduled to meet for a regular meeting this Thursday
at 7:30 a.m.
School board set to discuss tax payments
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - A plan to notify the public concerning accepting
partial tax payments until Jan. 31 of each year will be discussed at the
regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board Meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday.
The group will meet at 1304 S. Park, in the boardroom, to discuss several
items and the public is invited to attend the open portion of the meeting.
The meeting was moved up two days from its normal date on the second Thursday
of the month.
Board members will recognize the Pecos High School Swim Team which placed
seventh in the boys division of the Class 4A state meet last month in Austin;
will review a letter from 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks:
Community Justice Council election results and listen to a tax protest
and request by Sally Gomez.
Under old business the board will discuss and listen to a report on
Pecos High School roofing project; an update on CATE building and selection
of construction procurement method; bus proposals and a proposal for a
goose neck hitch type stock trailer.
The group will discuss and approve 2001-2002 school calendar; a request
by the Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Girl
Committee for use of the Pecos High School auditorium for Golden Girl of
the Old West, revue practices and pageant and waive fees; utilities cost;
offers to purchase foreclosed properties located at 405 S. Mesquite and
1401 S. Cypress; 2000-2001 budget amendments and will review board training
received by board members.
The group will discuss and approve a resolution for Texas Public Schools
School board members will meet in closed session, as authorized by the
Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq.,
Section 551.074: Discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel,
Section 551.071: Private consultation with the board's attorney. (1). Discuss
evaluations and renewal of probationary and term contract employees. (2).
Discuss evaluations and renewal of assistant principals' contracts and
(3). Discuss other personnel.
The group will return to open session and take action, if any, on items
discussed in closed session. Professional personnel contract renewals.
Renewal of assistant principals' contracts.
Under regular agenda items board members will discuss and approve:
Professional personnel: appointments, resignations, reassignments, retirements,
change of contract.
Depository securities report.
Cafeteria report and commodities received.
Current bills and financial report.
Reconciled bank statement report.
Reeves County Community Recreation Department Report.
Time and date for next meeting.
Calendar of events.
Request for items for next agenda.
Police seeking info on $4,300 jewelry theft
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers is seeking the community's
help in solving a burglary of a residence in which over $4,000 in items
were reported stolen.
On Jan. 8, at approximately 2:22 p.m., Pecos Police were dispatched
to the 500 block of Bois D'Arc Street in reference to a burglary of a residence.
Upon arrival Pecos Police Officers were advised that subject or subjects
had entered the resident through the west side bedroom window of the residence.
Once inside, they took a yellow rope style necklace with a yellow nugget
on it which was located in a dresser drawer.
Other items taken included a yellow in color nugget man's watch, several
women's rings and other assorted jewelry. Total value of the stolen property
was set at $4,300.
Anyone who has information on this burglary or information on anyone
who might be trying to sell jewelry items on the street, in bars, or on
school campuses, should call Crime Stoppers at 445-9898 and you will remain
Danny Shelton and Charles Towler
EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report
is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County
Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies.
Jaime Levario, 22, was arrested at 11:53 p.m., on March 3 in the 1200 block
of East Fourth Street for public intoxication and two DPS warrants for
speeding and failure to adjudicate.
The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either
traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered
arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were
paid. In such instanced we will indicate payment and release.
Mickey Gabaldon, 17, Felipe Ornelas, Jr., 17, and Thomas L. Munoz, 17,
were arrested at 12:14 a.m., on March 4 in the 300 block of North Hickory
Street. Gabaldon was arrested for possession of alcohol-Class C and public
intoxication. Ornelas was arrested for possession of alcohol-3rd
Offense-Class B and public intoxication. Munoz was arrested for driving
under the influence, possession of marijuana under two ounces in a drug
free zone and possession of alcohol-3rd offense.
Jose L. Ortiz, 39, was arrested at 6:26 p.m., on March 2 in the 300
block of South Orange Street for assault under the Family Violence Act
and a warrant for theft by check.
Jerry Orona, 17, was arrested 12:23 a.m., on March 3 in the 500 block
of South Palm Street for assault under the Family Violence Act.
Ernesto Baca, 17, and Javier Hernandez, 24, were arrested at 2:15 a.m.,
on March 3 in the 1000 block of Walnut Street. Baca was arrested on two
warrants for minor in possession and failure to adjudicate. Hernandez was
arrested for driving while intoxicated and two warrants for criminal mischief.
Gerardo Gutierrez, 29, was arrested at 3:57 a.m., on March 2 in the
600 block of East Second Street for public intoxication.
Leroy Chavez, 20, was arrested at 7:38 p.m., on March 1 at Oak and F
Streets for driving while license suspended.
Ronald Fossum, 52, was arrested at 8:35 p.m., on March 1 on Farm-to-Market
road 869 for possession of marijuana-felony.
PECOS, March 5, 2001 - High Sunday 68. Low this morning 36. Friday afternoon
rainfall at Texas A&M Experiement Station .14 inch. Year-to-date 1.46
inches. Forecast for tonight: Increasing high clouds, low in the mid 30s.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. High in the mid
60s. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Low
around 40. Wednesday: Mostly cloudy and breezy with a slight chance for
showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 60s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise