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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, January 17, 2003

Task force stop nets $220,500 cocaine seizure

Staff Writer

There was more in the engine of a truck traveling through Reeves County than just automobile parts, local drug task force officers discovered on Wednesday, when they seized over $200,000 in cocaine after a traffic stop five miles east of Toyah.

At approximately 11:36 a.m., Trans Pecos Drug Task Force officer Kevin Roberts stopped a 1994 GMC pickup that was eastbound on Interstate 20 at mile marker 27 for a traffic violation.

Officer Roberts was assisted by the task force officer Joe Gonzales and a U.S. Border Patrol Agent.

The officers obtained verbal consent from the driver of the vehicle for them to do a search, during which Roberts and Gonzales observed tampering had been done to the engine.

"We subsequently located approximately 5.4 pounds of cocaine concealed in the engine block of the GMC," said Roberts.

The street value of the cocaine was estimated to be about $220,500.

Arrested was the driver of the vehicle, Louis Perez, 30, of Glendale, Ariz.

Perez is currently being detained in the Reeves County Jail on charges of first degree felony charges for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) over 400 grams.

"In the past month and a half the task force has taken about 20 pounds of cocaine off the streets, which have a street value of $800,000," said task force commander Gary Richards.

He added that with the complicated ways the drugs are currently being transported through here, the officers are showing some really good observant skills. Task force officers have seized drugs hidden in wheels and in gas tanks in recent months.

"Kevin has been with us for the past year and a half and Joe for the past six months and they are working really well together," said Richards. "They are showing each other different things and are getting good at observing the different areas the drugs are hidden in."

He said the task force has seized 11 vehicles in the past seven months and $50,000 in confiscated drug money was awarded to the task force.

Also on Wednesday, an officer with the local task currently working in Midland, assisted in an arrest of a man who had a warrant out for a drug-related violation. Arrested for possession of a controlled substance (steroids) was Benjamin Doan Walker, 30.

"Our officers are doing an outstanding job, whether it's right here in Reeves County or while they are assisting other officers in other cities and counties," said Richards.

Family rudely awakened as car crashes into home

Staff Writers

A Pecos man washing dishes while preparing to go to work got an unexpected visitor this morning, and his family members were jolted out of their beds when a car crashed through the living room of their home at Plum and Jackson streets.

The incident occurred about 3:50 a.m. when the Chevrolet Lumina jumped the curb and sidewalk in front of the home of Guillermo and Irene Valle at 1418 S. Plum St., and managed to make it's way between two trees and past a third to crash through the brick wall of the family's living room before coming to a stop.

Fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel were called to the scene, but none of the occupants of the car requested treatment, and no one in the home was injured.

The vehicle was reportedly heading north and came through the intersection at Jackson and Plum Streets when the accident occurred. "They were coming on Plum Street and the girl said she swerved to avoid a dog in the middle of the street, and the passenger jerked the wheel, so they had two different reactions," said Pecos Police Officer Armando Garcia.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Zalixta Navarrette, 23, was not under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred, but the passenger in the seat next to her, as well as another man in the back seat had been drinking, and were placed under arrest, Garcia said. Police also found a bag containing five cans of beer, with a sixth can, which was open, was in the back seat of the Lumina.

Navarrette would probably be charged with traffic offenses in connection with the crash, while the two passengers, identified as Pilar Chavez, Jr., 26, and Arturo Hernandez, 21, were charged with public intoxication, according to Pecos Police Lt. Kelly Davis.

Garcia said when the car hit the house, "The man had barely left the living room to get ready for work. The others were asleep in the bedroom."

"He had gotten up and had been sitting on the couch, and then he went in here (the kitchen) and he started washing some dishes when he hear the crash," Irene Valle said.

The car ended up halfway in the Valles' home, blocking the front doorway and part of the door to the family's kitchen. It was pulled out of the house about an hour after the crash by Hector's Tire Service with a chain and winch, which had to be adjust twice to get the car around one of the trees in front of the house.

Virginia couple sues DPS over I-10 strip search

Staff Writer

A Virginia couple is suing Department of Public Safety officer in U.S. District Court in Pecos, following an incident that occurred in February of last year that they say embarrassed the wife, when she was ordered to undergo a strip search alongside Interstate 10 between Balmorhea and Fort Stockton.

Rodger and RoJetta L. Presgraves, of Bentonville, Va., are suing Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Ernesto Velasquez out of the DPS office in Fort Stockton, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Pecos Division.

Attorney for the couple is H. Thomas Hirsch of Odessa.

The suit states that on Feb. 13, 2002, the couple was in their automobile traveling eastbound on I-10 somewhere between Balmorhea and Fort Stockton, touring the southwestern portion of the United States while on their way to San Antonio.

Approximately at 9:15 a.m., they were pulled over by Trooper Velasquez, who was traveling with an unknown female trooper with him at the time. They were told that they were speeding and then received a citation for that and another one for no liability insurance because Mr. Presgraves could not find his insurance card. The no liability insurance ticket was later dismissed.

Velasquez then told the couple that he needed to search their automobile. They complied and the trooper began reaching into their car taking pieces of the automobile apart and generally trashing the car. While this was going on, Rodger Presgraves was told to sit on the front bumper of his eastbound automobile and keep his eyes to the east. While this was going on, the female trooper told RoJetta Presgraves that she would have to strip search her.

The suit then states that in view of all the vehicles and trucks that passed by on I-10, RoJetta Presgraves was forced to remove all of her clothing and stand nude on the shoulder of the highway.

No drugs or any type of illegal contraband were found and the couple was finally allowed to be on their way.

In their suit, the couple states that after they received the two traffic tickets, any other detention was illegal seizure under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Rodger Presgraves alleges that Trooper Ernesto Velasquez inflicted $1,036 in damages to his vehicle during the futile search for drugs and contraband.

Their lawsuit claims that RoJetta Presgraves suffered extreme mental anguish and humiliation when she was forced to strip naked on the shoulder of Interstate 10 in front of all the traffic traveling east and west and that they were entitled to $50,000 in damages.

The suit stated that the couple plans to add the unknown female trooper as a defendant to the case as soon as they discover her name and current location.

Fabens women run out of gas, out of luck

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A sheriff's deputy who assisted two women and five children in a van after it ran out of gas here found there wasn't enough room in the tank because it was full of marijuana.

Eddy County sheriff's deputy Kelly Calicoat was dispatched to a location on U.S. 62/180 near the New Mexico-Texas state line, 30 miles southwest of Carlsbad, on Wednesday to help a motorist who ran out of gas.

Calicoat arrived to find the women and children had been given some fuel. He decided to follow them to ensure they had enough to reach Carlsbad, Bobby Sullivan of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force said Thursday.

Calicoat stopped the van after the driver exceeded the posted speed limit.

Calicoat contacted the drug task force after speaking with the women and becoming suspicious.

The agents found a concealed compartment in the gas tank containing 72 pounds of marijuana. The also seized $700 in cash.

The compartment significantly reduced the van's fuel capacity, Sullivan said.

Leticia Guadian, 24, and Vanessa Chavez, 22, of Fabens were arrested and charged with distribution of marijuana and conspiracy. Both were being held at the Eddy County Detention Center Thursday on $10,000 secured bonds.

Chavez's five children - ranging in age from 18-months to five-years - were kept in police custody until their father arrived to get them.

Sullivan said the investigation continues.

"At this point, we are expanding our investigation into who sent the marijuana and who was going to receive it on the Oklahoma end," Sullivan said.

Dance scheduled Saturday night

A country dance will held following the Reeves-Loving County Livestock Sale on Saturday, at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Barn.

The dance will be held immediately after the livestock show sale and will feature D.J.s LDL (Los Dos Gringos Locos). The sale will begin at 7 p.m. at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Churches to hold 'March for Life'

A March for Life is scheduled for 5 p.m., Sunday, though the central part of Pecos.

The March will begin at Santa Rosa Church, 620 E. Fourth and participants will walk to St. Catherine's Catholic Church, Plum and Walthall.

Everyone is welcome to participate.


High Thursday 48. Low this morning 26. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 20s. Southeast winds 5 to15 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 50s. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 20s. Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 60s. Martin Luther King Jr Day: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Highs in the upper 60s.


Luisa Gallardo

Services for Luisa S. Gallardo, 86, of Pecos, who died today, Friday, Jan. 17, 2003, in Odessa are incomplete.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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