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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

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Thursday, May 17, 2001

Eight plead guilty from March drug sweep

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thursday, May 17, 2001 -- Several individuals have already pled guilty and are  awaiting sentencing on drug related charges in connection with  federal indictments returned in February, according to United States  Attorney Jeff Parras.

Parras said that eight individuals out of 11 named in an indictment and that were arrested in March have already pled guilty and are just awaiting sentencing.

The arrests were made after a Federal grand jury in Midland returned a 12-count sealed indictment on 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 was unsealed in March by U.S. Magistrate Judge Durwood Edwards in Alpine and contained 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 alleged 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 alleged 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.

Jose Sanchez, 24, and Yesenia Sanchez, 29 both have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Carlos Molinar Sanchez, 23, and Isidro Sanchez, a.k.a. "Chilo", 42 both have a trial set for June.

Christina Rios, 28, Rachel Borunda, 32 and Carlos Huerta, 24, all have pled guilty.

Carlos Molinar Sanchez, 23, Michelle Porras, 26, of Odessa will be going to trial in June.

Jose Gonzales-Montanez of Midland and 20-year old Jose Sotelo of Odessa both have pled guilty, while Clay Sanchez, of Chihuhua, Mexico remains a fugitive.

The federal grand jury indictment in the Pecos case involved 21 counts 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. The defendants face between 10 years and life in Federal prison in connection with the charges.

The arrested defendants named in the Pecos-related indictment included: Jose Alfredo Jimenez, a.k.a., "Freddy" 26; Ariel Pando, 25; Yesenia Estrella, 24; Servando Sanchez, 48; Marcia Sanchez, 48; Catalina Gonzalez Sanchez, 33; Karina Acosta-Sanchez, 25; Jeannie Llanez, 28 and Arturo Valdez, 21; Benjamin Montano, 22; Thomas Herrera and Gregorio Navarrette.

Benjamin Montano, 22 and Yesenia Estrella have already pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Montano pled guilty to a lesser charge and will receive 5-40 years in prison.

Ariel Pando will have a separate trial, while Javier Sanchez has pled guilty.

Two others, Thomas Herrera and Gregorio Navarrette will go to trial on June 4.

Unemployment rate for city, county reaches 101/2 -year low

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thursday, May 17, 2001 -- Reeves County's unemployment rate dropped by over 1 percent  in April despite an increase of over 600 people in the local workforce,  with the local jobless rate falling below the 6 percent mark for the first  time since December of 1990.

According to figures released today by the Texas Workforce Commission, unemployment for April stoop a 5.7 percent, a decline of 1.1 percent from March's 6.8 percent total. The TWC said the county's workforce grew from 6,899 people to 7,539 last month, but that was offset by an increase of 679 jobs, from 6,427 to 7,108.

The county's workforce is about 200 less than at the same time a year ago, when the jobless rate was 8.8 percent, but the number of jobs in Reeves County is up by 56 from the same time a year ago, the TWC said.

The 5.7 percent jobless rate is the lowest in almost 10½ years, since Reeves County reported a 5.8 percent jobless rate in December of 1990. However, the total number of jobs at that time in the county was 1,100 less than the TWC reported last month, and the total number of jobs is up by nearly 1,400 from April of 1990, according to figures on the agency's website - .

Unemployment for the Town of Pecos City also reached its lowest point since December 1990, falling from 7.9 percent in March to 6.6 percent in April. The city's workforce contained 5,870 people with 386 unemployed last month, compared with 5,382 in March, and 423 people without jobs.

Unemployment in the city was last below 7 percent in December of 1990, when the rate stood at 6.6 percent. Unemployment for Pecos in April of 2000 was at 10.1 percent, with a larger local workforce but fewer available jobs, the TWC said.

Rising oil prices both over the past two years have helped cut the city and county jobless rates by over 50 percent, along with lowering unemployment across the Permian Basin. The decline in jobless rates 11 years ago also was related to rising oil prices, as the pending Gulf War with Iraq in January 1991 sent the price of oil up to the $40 level at one point that winter.

Overall, the city and county both continue to have higher unemployment rates than other parts of the Permian Basin and Texas as a whole. The state's unemployment rate held at 4.0 percent in April, which was also the jobless rate a year ago, while the Midland-Odessa area's jobless rate is now below the statewide average, at 3.9 percent. It was 4.1 in March and 5.6 percent a year ago.

Loving County and Crane County were the only ones in the area to show increases in their unemployment rates. Andrews, Pecos and Ward counties showed jobless rate drops of between 1/10 and ½ percent, while Presidio County continues to have the state's highest jobless rate, but at 20.9 percent it was down by one third from the start of 2000.

State to pass Balmorhea `oasis' resolution

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thursday, May 17, 2001 -- Several representatives from Reeves County and the City  of Balmorhea are traveling to Austin today to meet with the Texas  State Legislature tomorrow at the State Capital in Austin.

Representative Gary Walker is scheduled to read a resolution during a ceremony tomorrow morning stating that Balmorhea would be designated the "Oasis of West Texas," according to Balmorhea City Secretary Mary Garcia.

"Representative Gary Walker is actually going to read the resolution so that it would be formally recognized," she said.

Garcia said that several people would be present during the ceremony including herself, two Balmorhea City Councilmen, Ike Ward and Ruben Fuentez, the City Water Superintendent Louis Contreras, the Water District Manager Abel Baeza and several members of the community.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, Pecos City Councilman Ricky Herrera and Galindo's assistant, Randy Baeza will also be in attendance.

The resolution states that being surrounded by the Davis Mountains and nourished by springs and creeks "the area of Balmorhea has long sustained human habitation and provided welcoming water for those crossing the arid stretches of the Trans-Pecos."

The resolution goes on to state that the San Solomon Springs, located southwest of Balmorhea, is the seventh largest group of springs in Texas.

It has also been the stopping place for many people through many years dating back to prehistoric times including Spanish explorers and Native Americans in the 1500s and teamsters traveling between San Antonio and El Paso.

"For millenia, the area of Balmorhea has supported people and wildlife with its vital springs and creeks, and it is altogether fitting that the exceptional importance of this locale be recognized," the resolution said.

Garcia said that there has been great response from the citizens to the resolution.

"Everybody is very excited," she said. "It'll be great publicity for Balmorhea."

Garcia said that there are no city plans at this time to renovate major parts of Balmorhea, but that several businesses and local people have been working on cleaning up the town.

"There has been big involvement in the clean up committee," she said.

Garcia said that anyone who is interested in attending the ceremony in Austin tomorrow is welcome to join.

For more information call the Balmorhea City Hall at 375-2307.

Stockton woman's claims anger local officials

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thursday, May 17, 2001 -- A letter circulated by a Fort Stockton woman and published in  the city's newspaper last week has angered officials in Pecos by  citing the city's "big youth problems with drugs, alcohol and gangs."

Over the past few weeks Delfina Huerta has been pleading for support from the community in getting the Fort Stockton Economic Development Board to purchase the Apache Theater by demeaning the Town of Pecos City. As part of her effort, Huerta circulated a letter around Fort Stockton and had it published in the Fort Stockton Pioneer, stating that the Apache Theater would close down on May 10 if the citizens did not show support and ask the Economic Development Board to purchase it.

The letter states the "Apache Theater is closing down on Thursday, May 10th, if you do not want our city to be like our neighbors in Pecos, with big youth problems, with drugs, alcohol and gangs. Please call this members of the Economic Development Board."

Huerta goes on and lists the members of the Economic Development Board and their phone numbers as well as closing with "Please ask them to help us to stay open, or for them to buy the theater and run it themselves."

A copy of the letter was first obtained by local officials in Pecos two weeks ago.

Fort Stockton Economic Development Board member and Pecos County Commissioner Paul Valenzuela said that the FSEDB had nothing to do with that letter or the letter to the editor in the newspaper.

He said that the board never saw the letter and in fact, until the Enterprise contacted him, he did not know what was said in the letter.

"I never would have authorized a letter like that," he said.

Valenzuela explained that Huerta's husband was trying to buy the theater and asked the Board for help.

He said that the Board was planning on helping them purchase the theater until they found out from the state that they could not due to financial reasons on the Huertas part.

"The EDC was very supportive of them," he said. "We tried to help her every way we could."

Valenzuela said that he does not know what information Huerta based her statement on.

"She doesn't have her facts right on all of this," he said.

According to the latest criminal statistics given to the Enterprise by both the Fort Stockton and Pecos Police Departments show that the two city's crime rates are roughly the same, with Fort Stockton's rate is slightly higher than Pecos' most recent numbers.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez along with several employees of the County responded to Huerta and her statements with a letter to the editor of The Pioneer.

Gomez said this morning that they wanted to respond to Huerta herself because she acted solely in the circulation of the letter.

In the letter, signed by six other people, Garcia stated that the people of Pecos did not appreciate Huerta's letter and that every town struggles with different things.

"Every town has its own problems and in every town people strive to find solutions," the letter said. "In doing so, we certainly avoid degrading other people or other communities as you have done ours."

Valenzuela said that all the communities in this area are struggling with their own problems and must work together in order to survive.

"We're all in the same boat," he said.

Valenzuela also said that he believes that Pecos and Fort Stockton have a good relationship with each other a praises the elected officials here.

"You have some good leadership over there," he said.

In the letter addressed to Huerta, Garcia also informed Huerta that the Pecos movie theater is "open and successfully running."

He goes on by stating that the owners and managers of the State Theater, Lillian and Richard Creasy, are hard working people who are an asset to the community much like many citizens of Pecos.

"This town consists of many such hardworking people who care for Pecos and sadly, are not mentioned in your article," the letter said.

The Pecos Enterprise was unable to reach Huerta for this article.

Training session for school board scheduled Friday

PECOS, Thursday, May 17, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will have board training beginning  at 5:30 p.m., Friday in the boardroom, at 1304 S. Park Street.

All board members are invited to attend. Four new members were elected to the P-B-T school board in the May 5 local elections, and attended their first school board meeting last Thursday.

High Wednesday 101. Low this morning 69. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 60s. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph: Becoming northeast 10 to 15 mph before sunrise. Friday: Mostly sunny and not as warm. High in the mid 90s. East to northeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 60s. Saturday and Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 50s to the lower 60s. Highs in the upper 80s to the mid 90s.


Frank Glier, Amelia Mora and Jeremiah Natividad

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