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Crack cocaine may not be as bad as it is cracked up to be, and the
federal sentencing commission is considering a change in sentencing
guidelines, said U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson Thursday.
Judge Furgeson delayed sentencing for six months on the crack cocaine
conviction of Dixon Addy Jr., 45, to give the commission time to act.
Liz Rogers, public defender, had asked the judge to give Addy a lighter
sentence than the 210-month minimum the current guidelines call for.
Prosecutor Tom Beery asked for a continuance to give him time to study
her motion and bring in law enforcement officers, crack addicts and
dealers to testify to its effects.
"We anticipate either side appealing the court's decision, no matter
what you do," Beery said.
Citing a Jacques Coustou film about cocaine use in the jungles, Beery
said that children in Lima Peru are being subjected to operations to cut
off the pleasure centers in their brains because they can't get off
"The cure rate was 50 percent," he said.
Furgeson sjaid he was briefed in March on the sentencing commission's
work in regard to crack cocaine.
"I told Beery that I would, in every crack case, give the minimum
sentence because the guidelines were so different between cocaine and
crack and because of the outcry for change," he said.
Since Addy will be incarcerated for a substantial period of time,
Furgeson said he would prefer to wait for the commission's decision
"The departures downward that are not real firmly grounded do not have
enormous success rate in the Fifth Circuit," he said. "Rather than go
through that exercise (of appeal), I would just as soon wait," he said.
Rogers said that Addy doesn't like the Reeves County Jail and asked if
he could be moved to the detention center.
Deputy Marshal Billy Johnson said he can not put prisoners in the Reeves
County Detention Center, but could possibly move him to another jail.
Furgeson said that a defendant in a recent Midland case said he liked
the new Winkler County jail. "He made it sound like a country club," he
He told Addy that his sentence could be as little as 97 months if the
guidelines are changed, so he should be content to wait.
A conviction for drug possession may put a Rio Grande Valley man in
chains for life, despite a lenient prison sentence.
That's because U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson on Friday made
marriage to the mother of his child a part of the formal sentence of
Carlos Rafael Rosado-Gonzalez, 26, of Hidalgo.
Rosado had earlier pleaded guilty to drug possession, which could have
put him in prison for five years or longer. But because he cooperated
with the government, and because Judge Furgeson wanted him to be able to
raise his daughter, he departed downward from the sentencing guidelines
in pronouncing the 18-month sentence.
"I want to try to put him in a facility near your community so you can
visit him," Judge Furgeson told Rosado's girlfriend as she held their
infant daughter at the podium.
Furgeson made Ms. Garza and Rosado promise they would get married as
soon as he can obtain his birth certificate from New York, then gave him
six weeks to report to prison near San Antonio.
"I want you to make me a copy of your marriage license," he told the
couple. "I will be disappointed if I don't get that.
"You made a mistake, and you shouldn't have," Judge Furgeson told
Rosado. "As far as I can tell, it is the first mistake of this kind you
have ever made in your life. I don't want you to make another mistake.
Live a straight life; grow old with your wife and kids."
"I learned my lesson this time, sir," Rosado said.
Defense Attorney Mike Barclay of Alpine said that Rosado is devoted to
his family, and they to him.
"A guy came along and waved $4,000 at him. Then the good Samaritan
Border Patrol came along and helped when the truck overheaded, and now
we are all gathered together," Barclay said.
Others sentenced Friday were Afredo Samaniego, 30 months plus three
years supervised release; and Phillip E. Laub, 51 months plus three
years supervised release.
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton on Monday sentenced a Mexican citizen to nine
years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine
and accepted seven guilty pleas.
Juan Loya-Quinonez, who with his co-defendant Juan Martinez-Carbajal,
was arrested at a Border Patrol checkpoint east of El Paso, began his
108-month sentence immediately on Judge Bunton's order.
He sentenced Serina La Rae Toomey to 20 months in prison on an unrelated
drug conviction, and placed Francisca Hernandez on probation for four
years for alien smuggling.
Pleading guilty to conspiracy to smuggle aliens and/or smuggling aliens
were Ramiro Ponce-Delgado, 36, Sara Delgado, 36, Eva Tovar and Horacio
Montalvo-Ovieda, all of El Paso.
They admitted conspiring with 11 Mexican nationals to transport them to
Kansas for $500 each.
Sara Ponce and Tovar transported the Mexican citizens from El Paso to
the Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Highway 62/180 east of El Paso,
where Montalvo allegedly guided them around the checkpoint February 19.
Damond Nelson, 24, of East Riverside, Calif. pleaded guilty to
possession of more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, which could result in a
prison sentence of 10 years to life and a $4 million fine.
U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson has withdrawn a 1981 order that
criminal suspects arrested in the 10-county Pecos Division of federal
court be brought to Pecos for all court action.
Under his new order, all arrestees will be taken to the nearest
magistrate judge in the Western District of Texas, without regard to
whether the magistrate judge is located in the Pecos, El Paso or
The magistrate judge who handles the initial appearance will also handle
any necessary detention and preliminary hearings.
However, felony cases will be tried in Pecos under the order. Any case
which originates in the Pecos Division will be filed and prosecuted in
the Pecos Division, unless the case has a significant connection with
another division in the Western District which would justify the case
being filed there, he ordered.
Judge Furgeson requested that the U.S. Attorney for the Western District
prepare a monthly statistical report for the court detailing how this
change in orders is affecting the three divisions so that the impact of
the order can be monitored by the court through May 31, 1996.
His action comes after numerous complaints by law enforcement officers,
prosecutors and public defenders that traveling to Pecos for court puts
a strain on their manpower and budgets.
DEA agents in El Paso have been especially vocal about the 1981 order by
then-district judge Lucius Bunton, which required them to drive 80 miles
to Sierra Blanca to pick up a suspect, then another 120 miles to bring
him to Pecos for initial appearance before a magistrate.
Judge Furgeson said he believes his new order will increase criminal
felony case filings in Pecos, where a new federal courthouse is under
Three chiropractors and an unlicensed "physician" face fraud charges in
Midland federal court for an alleged scheme to obtain payment for
medical services that were never rendered.
Joe T. Boyd, Richard W. Bratcher, James H. Crockett and Wallace B.
Brucker are named in a 10-count indictment returned last week. All are
charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud by billing Medicare,
insurance companies and patients.
Boyd, owner of Boyd Chiropractic Clinic, devised the scheme in 1989
after making a trip to California to study the workings of a group of
diagnostic clinics created for the purposes of generating large
insurance receivables, packaging the receivables and selling them to
investors, the indictment alleges.
According to the indictment, he then set up the Med-America group of
companies ostensibly to provide medically sound diagnostic, testing and
treatment services to citizens of the Midland-Odessa areas. In fact, the
purpose was to order excessive and unnecessary, expensive medical tests
and bill the insurance carrier for the tests whether or not they were
Boyd set up a telemarketers style advertising system to lure individuals
for a free medical "consultation" at Med-America, erroneously
representing that Med-America was staffed by large numbers of medical
doctors with varied expertise and sophisticated specialties.
Hundreds of individuals accepted the free offer from October, 1989
through June, 1990, the indictment alleges. Also, Boyd frequently
referred patients to Med-America from his chiropractic clinic. Upon
arrival at Med-Amnerica, individuals would spend 45 minutes to one hour
giving information about their medical insurance coverage and medical
history to a clerical staff member.
He or she then would be asked to disrobe, put on paper gown and wait in
a sparsely furnished room with no medical equipment. One of the four
defendants would then conduct an "examination," order tests and make a
Despite the "free" offer, insurance companies or Medicare were billed
for the initial visit and all subsequent appointments and "tests."
Boyd negotiated to sell, and in some instances, did sell the insurance
receivables at a discount to investors. Three investment companies paid
almost $170,000 for the insurance receivables in early 1990, the
Boyd, Bratcher and Crockett are chiropractors, while Brucker claimed to
have attended a medical school in the West Indies, but was never
licensed to practice in Texas.
Boyd also owned I.M.G. Testing Inc. and Hillcrest Clinics Inc in Dallas
and Hillcrest Clinics Inc. in Austin. Boyd and Bratcher worked at
Hillcrest, where they provided services to individuals who sought
medical consultation, testing or treatment, the indictment alleges.
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton this morning sentenced a California man to
almost 24 years in federal prison for drug possession.
Federal court jurors earlier convicted Darren Maurice Robinson, 29, of
Los Angeles, of posession with intent to distribute marijuana and
Robinson was arrested January 28 at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol
checkpoint after agents found the contraband in a black suitcase in the
luggage compartment of a Greyhound bus.
Judge Bunton's sentence was 60 months on Count 1 and 285 months on Count
2, to run concurrently. He added five years supervised release to the
Juan Martinez-Carbajal was sentenced to 27 months in prison, with one
year supervised release, on an unrelated drug conviction.
Probation violators Carlos Gonzales-Hinojos and Charles Edward Thomas
were sentenced to seven and 12 months, respectively.
Although he is semi-retired, Judge Bunton has agreed to handle one-third
of all criminal cases filed in the Pecos Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Beery of Midland said this morning that a
third prosecutor has been added to his office, and he will serve the
Agent Guadalupe Trevino testified that Robinson was the only passenger
on the bus who had a ticket to Memphis, Tenn., the destination for the
black bag. He gave his name as Williams and said he had no luggage nor
When he asked Robinson to stand up and move away from the seat, Trevino
said he searched behind the seat, between the seat and the back, and in
an air vent nearby. In the air vent he found a baggage claim ticket for
the bag containing the contraband.
Robinson surrendered a second claim ticket with a consecutive number
and in the same handwriting as the first.
After taking Robinson inside the station for questioning, Trevino said
he noticed a wallet in his back pocket and asked to see it. Inside was
California identification with the name of Robinson.
Agent John Miller, who found the contraband while checking the bus
luggage compartment, said that Robinson's bag contained Robinson's birth
certificate and other documents identifying him.
It is unusual for a person to carry contraband in the same bag with his
items that will identify him, Miller said.
Agents said the marijuana weighed 16.46 pounds and the cocaine weighed
Because of the amoung of drugs and a prior criminal record, Robinson
could be sentenced to 36 years to life in prison. He is on parole for a
felony conviction in Maryland. Senior Judge Lucius Bunton set sentencing
for May 15.
In other hearings this week, Judge Bunton accepted four guilty pleas
and approved dismissal of charges against one defendant.
Ester Rodriguez Berner of Kress was charged with possession with intent
to distribute marijuana on January 19. Prosecutor Jan Bonner asked that
the charge be dismissed, pending further investigation.
Serina Ray Toomey, 19, of Denver, Colo., pleaded guilty to possession
with intent to distribute marjuana on January 23. A charge of importing
marijuana is to be dismissed at sentencing May 15.
Juan Angel Martinez-Carbajal pleaded guilty to one count of a
superceding information, and his co-defendant, Juan Carlos
Loya-Quinonez, pleaded guilty to the indictment for possession with
intent to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine on January 16. They
are to be sentenced May 15.
Francisca Hernandez pleded guilty to one count of possession with
intent to distribute marijuana, with count two to be dismissed at
sentencing on May 15.
It's not nice to fool Mother Customs, a New York man learned Monday.
U.S. Customs inspectors at the Presidio port of entry seized 1,750 Cuban
cigars valued at $28,000 from the man who entered the United States from
Inspectors decided to search the 1994 Ford Topaz the man was driving
because he was nervous when telling them he was not bringing anything
from Mexico, said District Director Gurdit Dhillon. They found 70 boxes
of Cuban cigars in his belongings, Dhillon said.
The cigars were seized, but no additional penalties were assessed.
Importation of goods from Cuba is generally prohibited under regulations
administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The law is one of the 600 laws and regulations of 60 different agencies
that U.S. Customs enforces or administers.
Federal grand jurors returned two indictments on Thursday - the first
in three months in the Pecos Division.
Sylvestre Vera-Jimenez, 40, of Mexico is charged with possession with
intent to distribute marijuana in excess of 100 kilograms on May 8. If
convicted he could be sentenced to 5-40 years in prison with a four-year
minimum supervised release and $2 million fine.
Pedro Bustamante-Arras, 39, of Kyle is charged with two counts of
encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States illegally on
Also on Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Louis Guirola Jr. accepted a "not
guilty" plea from a Pecos man, Armando Salcido.
Salcido was indicted last year for felon in possession of a firearm. He
was serving a prison sentence on a state conviction, and his arraignment
was delayed until his release.
He was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
Judge Guirola also remanded Juan Muro-Alvarez to the marshals' custody
to await sentencing on a conviction for conspiring to possess over 100
kilograms of marijuana for distribution.
Guirola said he had released Muro on bail following his guilty plea. He
has since been arrested for violating terms of his release.
However, Guirola said that government prosecutors were not represented
in court and he would hear no evidence on that allegation.
"We won't go into the reasons why" the government was not represented,
Since District Judge Royal Furgeson has accepted the guilty plea and
found Muro guilty of a drug offense with a possible penalty of more than
10 years in prison, he is not eligible to be free on bail, Guirola ruled.
"Conditions of release are set aside and voided, and he is remanded to
the U.S. Marshal pending sentencing," he said.
"Under the bail reform act's mandatory provisions, I don't have to take
up the violation of release, since he shouldn't have been released in
the first place," Guirola said.
Alpine magistrate judge Katherine Baker set bail at $25,000 for Oscar
Perches-Villa of Mexico on a charge of illegal entry. He was returned to
Presidio County to await trial.
"Coyote" is a slang term for suspected transporters.
One, a Ruidosa, Tex. resident, is recovering from a slashed neck
believed to have been self-inflicted in a suicide attempt.
Israel Carrasco-Renteria, 31, was arrested along with Jose Luis Esparza,
29, of Irving and two Mexican citizens. Esparza is also charged with
transporting, a felony.
Ramon Garcia-Rodriguez and Francisco Perez-Gomez are charged with
illegal entry, a misdemeanor. They are to be arraigned before U.S.
Magistrate Louis Guirola Jr. Thursday.
Guirola also set a preliminary hearing for Carrasco and Esparza.
Carrasco is being held without bail, while bail for Esparza is set at
U.S. Border patrol agents arrested the suspects in Presidio County south
of Marfa Sunday.
Carrasco slashed his own neck June 7 after first attacking his
girlfriend when she refused to reconcile, reports Contacto!, an Ojinaga,
Grass and hay don't mix, U.S. Customs inspectors at the Presidio Port of
Entry said Saturday.
As part of Operation hard Line, inspectors at the POE selected a 1983
Peterbilt Truck-semi trailer that crossed the Rio Grande late Friday for
a full inspection, said Roger Maier, public information officer.
When Jake, a drug-sniffing dog, alerted positive to the forward area of
the trailer containing 600 bales of hay, inspectors secured the vehicle
until the broker could contract personnel to unload the cargo, Maier
Three burlap sacks containing 49 plastic-wrapped bundles of suspected
marijuana were found hidden in the hay, he said. The contraband weighed
The driver, truck and trailer were turned over to the Presidio Sheriff's
Office for prosecution by the state after assistant U.S. attorneys in
Midland declined prosecution, Maier said.
Operation Hard Line is a Customs initiative to step up inspections along
the Southwest border, Maier said. The Presidio operation was begun in
An Odessa man convicted of importing marijuana from Mexico will spend 53
months in federal prison after he completes a state prison sentence for
possession of cocaine, U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson ruled this
Rito A. Sanchez, 38, was convicted by a federal jury in March of
importing and possessing marijuana for distribution. His attorney, Scott
Johnson, sought to have his federal sentence run concurrently with the
In a hearing this morning, government prosecutor Jan Bonner opposed
Customs agent Steven D. Coker testified that he attempted to work out a
deal to help Sanchez with a state parole revocation if he would give the
government information vital to other narcotics cases.
"There was no cooperation at all," Coker said.
Sanchez was arrested Dec. 18, 1994 after U.S. Customs inspectors at the
Presidio Port of Entry found 97 pounds of marijuana concealed inside a
gas tank on the 1983 Ford Bronco he had just driven across the
international bridge from Ojinaga, Mex.
A drug-sniffing dog alerted to the Bronco during the inspection,
officers said. When they removed the gas tank they found the contraband.
Sanchez denied knowing the marijuana was in the gas tank.
Bonner asked Judge Furgeson to take special notice of Sanchez's criminal
history before pronouncing sentence.
Johnson said those convictions were for public intoxication, driving
while license suspended - "Nothing of importance except possession of
cocaine; not a very dangerous type of offense to other persons, just
Bonner noted that a charge of kidnapping was dismissed at the request of
Judge Furgeson said that the pre-sentence report showed an offense level
of 20 and criminal history category of four, making the sentencing
guideline range 51-63 months with three years supervised release and an
optional fine of $575,000.
He set the sentence at the low end of the guideline range and made the
two federal sentences concurrent. However, he ordered that it be
consecutive with the state sentence.
Agreeing to recommend that Sanchez be imprisoned at Big Spring to be
near his family, Judge Furgeson said he would recommend that he receive
drug treatment, get literacy training and opportunities for job training
while in prison.
The sentencing was the only case on Judge Furgeson's docket this
morning. A status conference in a civil proceeding was cancelled.
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton has two revocation hearings and six
sentencings set for July 5.
Federal prosecutors have filed conspirary and bank fraud charges against
a Midland woman who was employed by the Alpine Community Credit Union in
Sandra Montoya, 21, allegedly wrote three checks to herself in 1994,
signing the name of the credit union president to the checks without his
The complaint alleges Montoya wrote a check to herself for $4,000 in
March, another for $850 in June and one for $853.87 in September, 1994.
Carlos Herrera-Cerda, 31, of Mexico, is charged with possession with
intent to distribute marijuana on June 20. He allegedly had over 50
kilograms of marijuana in his possession when he was arrested.
Higinio Gonzalez-Gonzalez, 37, of Mexico, is charged with illegal
re-entry after deportation.
Gonzalez was deported on March 24 subsequent to a felony conviction, the
complait alleges. He was arrested by Border Patrol agents near Marfa
Three former inmates of the Reeves County Law Enforcement Center have
sued Reeves County, Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez, the LEC and its staff and the
U.S. Bureau of Prisons for $2.6 million in damages resulting from an
alleged beating by other inmates.
Joshua Edigin, Adebayo Yaya and Olu Akhigbe, who are black, claim in the
federal court suit that Hispanic inmates beat them unconscious on July
19, 1993 at the climax of several months of racial unrest.
The three black men claim the group of Hispanics obtained baseball bats,
iron weights and iron bars from the prison recreation yard and used
them, along with knives, in the attack.
Edigin claims the loss of one of his testicles, permanent loss of
partial vision in his right eye, a permanent scar on his forehead,
dislocated and fractured knee caps and severe bruises on his elbow,
waist, shoulder and upper and lower back.
Yaya claims a broken pelvic bone, the loss of a testicle, two fractured
wrists and severe injuries to both knee caps, legs, arms, shoulders and
Akhigbe suffered a head injury from a baseball bat, external hemorrhage
from a puncture-type wound to his back and bilateral knee injuries, the
Hispanic-on-black attacks had occurred on May 17, in June, July 15 and
July 18, 1993 the complaint alleges. Early on July 19, a black inmate
who was attacked the previous day was again attacked by a Hispanic
Later that day, a Hispanic inmate told the blacks that they were to be
attacked, and Edigin reported the tip to J.J. Garcia, then associate
director of custody, and to Lavaughn Garnto, the supervisor on duty, the
Edigin requested that he and other Black inmates be separated from
Hispanic prisioners or provided with increased security. That was not
provided, he said.
Garnto said this morning that only the warden is allowed to comment on
LEC affairs. Warden Joe Trujillo was in commissioners meeting and not
available for comment.
Sheriff Gomez is out of town attending a sheriff's convention, said Fred
Lujan, chief deputy.
Lujan said he remembers the incident, which occurred shortly after Gomez
"We were expecting the suit," he said. "We got a letter of intent to
Lujan said he remembers some uprisings around that time, with Hispanics
Blacks comprise a small minority of inmates in the prison, which houses
mostly Mexican citizens convicted of immigration or drug violations in
the United States.
Lujan said he recalled many complaints in the early years of the LEC's
existence, when he served as program manager.
"They were complaining about the ratio of Hispanics to Blacks, but it
wasn't really a problem. It was mostly because of the food," he said.
Each of the plaintiffs seeks $3,000 from the BOP, plus $600,000 for
general damages and $2 million for punitive damages from each defendant.
Judge Furgeson and his staff met Friday with Pecos Mayor Dot Stafford,
Chamber of Commerce President Fred Dominguez and their committee to plan
a dedication on October 27 and an open house the next day, a Saturday.
Stafford said the meeting was the "first of many, I'm sure" for the
Other local committee members are chamber executive director Tom Rivera,
Peggy McCracken, Oscar Saenz and Emily Fernandes.
Besides local residents, Judge Furgeson plans to invite federal
employees from throughout the Western District of Texas.
Mid-January is the projected date for a dedication ceremony and open
house for the new federal courthouse under construction at 410 S. Eddy
St., said Tom Rivera, Pecos Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Rivera said that District Judge Royal Furgeson has learned that the
contractor is scheduled to release the new building to the General
Services Administration in January.
Furgeson had hoped to dedicate the building October 27 and hold an open
house and barbecue October 28. However, that will not be possible,
The committee working with Judge Furgeson to host the open house will
meet again August 24, Rivera said.
Fort Davis ISD is the latest government entity to be sued by the League
of United Latin American Citizens regarding at-large elections.
LULAC seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting elections under the
present at-large scheme and formation of an election scheme that
includes single member electoral districts or cumulative voting to
ensure that the voting strength of minority voters will not be diluted.
Fort Davis ISD has a population of 1,328, with a Mexican-American
population of 533, or 40 percent, alleges Roldano L. Rios, who filed the
suit in Pecos federal court.
No minority trustee serves on the school board at this time, Rios said,
and at-large elections deny minorities equal opportunity to be elected.
If single-member districts were created, at least one would have a
majority population of minority residents.
Cumulative voting allows each voter to cast all his votes for one or
more candidates in a race. For example, if all seven school board seats
were up for election, a voter could cast seven votes for one candidate
or three for one candidate and four for another.
The suit names the Fort Davis Independent School District and the seven
trustees: Kimball Miller, Delton Daugherty, Jim Espy Jr., Margaret
Knight, Keith Jarratt, Mike Pittman and Larry Harnett as defendants.
Meissner said the site at Charleston Naval Base will augment the current
Border Patrol Academy at FLETC in Glynco, Ga.
Over the next three years, the Border Patrol will add about 4,000 new
"Our rigorous Border Patrol Training program is widely regarded as one
of the best basic training programs for law enforcement personnel,"
Meissner said. "Our goal is to maintain the high standards and quality
of the program. We are confident that the Charleston site will allow us
to do that most efficiently."
Richard J. Morrissey, chief patrol agent for the Marfa sector, said the
new facility will be jointly operated by FLECT and INS in cooperation
with the Navy and the Charleston Redevelopment Authority. It will gegin
operation in October and will continue for about three years.
The training program encompasses law, operations, Spanish language,
firearms, self defense and driver training.
Marijuana and money tainted with drugs were confiscated by the U.S.
Border Patrol over the weekend, said Richard J. Morrissey, chief patrol
agent for the Marfa sector.
Three defendants were slated to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge
Katherine Baker in Alpine Tuesday on marijuana possession charges
involving more than 600 pounds of contraband.
Joe Ben Garcia, 31, of Fort Stockton was arrested in Big Bend National
Park attempting to smuggle 455 pounds of marijuana into the United
States, Morrissey said.
Agents caught two Mexican citizens near Valentine Saturday with 183.4
pounds of marijuana that had been transported over the mountains from
Mexico on horseback.
A female carrying a large amount of money was arrested at the Sierra
Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint Saturday after agents found a very large
amount of currency in her possession.
Both the currency and the 1994 Cadillac the woman was driving were
confiscated as narcotics-related assets, Morrissey said.
Federal prosecutors accepted the cases for prosecution rather than
turning them over to the state as has become the custom in the Pecos
Division. Federal cases arising at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint are
filed with a magistrate in El Paso, but should be indicted and tried in
Drug cases rejected by federal prosecutors have clogged state courts in
Presidio and Hudspeth counties, where major Border Patrol checkpoints
Albert Valadez, district attorney for the 83rd Judicial District, said
that 14 mrijuana cases handled in Presidio County last week all
originated with federal agencies.
Valadez and District Judge Alex Gonzales is spending more time in
Presidio County to handle those cases, Valadez said.
"We have to make more trips out there to make them move faster," he
said. "We spend as much time in Presidio County as in the other five
counties combined. The docket in Presidio County now contains 85-90
percent possession of marijuana cases."
Presidio County is having a struggle paying for its new jail because the
drug offenders charged in state court do not produce revenue as do
"The county has to pay their expense," Valadez said. "It is a financial
drain on the county, so we have to make more trips. It is a big burden
on the county, but we are not going to let them go."
Ten of the defendants on last week's docket pleaded guilty. Sentences
ranged from seven years probation to five years in state prison.
Judge Gonzales issued arrest warrants for three defendants who failed to
appear and re-instated bond for a fourth.
Meanwhile, construction continues in Pecos on a federal courthouse that
will have a courtroom and chambers for the district judge, who handles
felony criminal cases, and a smaller courtroom for the magistrate judge,
who sets bail on felony charges and handles misdemeanor cases.
Completion is expected in January, 1996.
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