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PECOS, 1995 - Federal court business should pick up with the addition
this week of Glen Jackson, 29, as assistant U.S. attorney in the Midland
Jackson will handle criminal prosecutions in the Pecos Division along
with other duties.
The 1992 law school graduate worked for one year as law clerk for Chief
District Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth in El Paso.
Prior to that, he had worked in insurance law.
"I am oriented to doing criminal work, and that's why I wanted to be a
prosecutor," Jackson said.
He took the oath of office Wednesday and was in Pecos this morning for
grand jury and the magistrate court docket.
Fort Stockton resident Joe Ben Garcia, 31, is charged with possession
with intent to distribute marijuana. He was arrested by U.S. Border
Patrol agents July 30 in Big Bend National Park with 458 pounds of
Jerry Dale Thomas, 21, and William Ernest Britton, 34, are charged with
conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and possession with intent
to distribute methamphetamine.
They were arrested Monday at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint.
Thomas is also charged with carrying or using a firearm during
commission of a drug-related crime.
Javier Garcia-Quintana, 33, and Gregorio Tarango-Gonzalez, 24, both of
Mexico, are charged with conspiracy to possess and possession with
intent to distribute marijuana on July 29.
They were arrested by Border Patrol agents on Chispa Road near Valentine
with 198.25 pounds of marijuana in backpacks.
Cleveland T. Hart, 35, of Los Angeles, Calif., is charged with felon in
possession of a firearm on Dec. 15, 1994.
Jose Antonio Galindo-Villa, 27, of Mexico is charged with illegal
re-entry after deportation.
Tom Beery, supervising assistant U.S. attorney of Midland, presented the
cases to the grand jury. A new AUSA, Glen Jackson, accompanied him to
Pecos. Jackson is assigned to prosecute Pecos Division cases, replacing
Jan Bonner, who transferred to El Paso.
Furgeson met with the builders and federal and local officials Thursday
to work out details of the event.
Jay Crawford, project manager for Dominion Leasing, who will own the
building and lease it to the General Services Administration, said he
expects to turn it over about mid-November.
Laura Strohbach, GSA real estate specialist, said that the district
clerk's office can begin moving in furniture immediately therefter,
although some security work may not be completed.
The U.S. Marshals Service contracts with a firm to install security
devices, and they often are asked to install cameras and alarm buttons
after agencies have moved in, said Phil Reyes with the San Antonio
office of district clerk.
Crawford said that no contractors will be allowed in the building during
the last two weeks of cleanup so it can be put in tip-top shape for the
occupant. He recommended a delay of two months for the open house to
allow everyone to move in and get settled.
Reyes said he is working with the future occupants to select
furnishings. Some free furniture may be available in Oklahoma City from
the FDIC, he said.
Architect Troy Downing showed samples of carpeting, wall coverings and
wood trim that will go in each office. Some wall coverings are already
in place, he said.
Carpets will be a blend of blue and varied colors in the offices and
burgundy in the courtrooms, judges chambers and U.S. attorneys offices.
Oscar Saenz said that Anchor West will underwrite part of the cost for a
pre-opening dinner for the 10 district judges and three senior judges,
court personnel, builders, local organizers of the event and other
invited guests on January 25.
Pecos Chamber of Commerce will arrange for invitations for both events
to be printed locally, said Tom Rivera, executive director.
Mayor Dot Stafford suggested the open house begin at 11 a.m. on
Saturday, January 26, with light refreshments.
Crawford said he would arrange for group tours of the building.
Furgeson noted that construction is ahead of schedule. Under the
contract with GSA, the contractor has until February 1 to complete the
Bustamanet was arrested February 10 with two Mexican citizens and was
indicted for inducing them to enter the country illegally.
The jury found him guilty of the first count but innocent of the second.
Bustamante had been free on $25,000 bail, but Judge Furgeson revoked his
bail and ordered him held by the U.S. Marshal Service until sentencing.
The jury verdict was returned at 7:25 p.m., following a day-long trial.
Jackson and U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Guirola Jr. were in Pecos today
for arraignments on six felony indictments, one bond hearing and one
preliminary exam on a probation revocation case.
Magistrate Judge Katherine Baker said she has been busy this month in
Alpine, as well. She had five defendants on felony charges brought in
for initial appearance; handled five misdemeanor cases and 12 petty
"It is picking up," Baker said.
The number of cases is about what it was before a full-time magistrate
was appointed for the Pecos Division and Judge Lucius Bunton ordered all
initial appearances on misdemeanor and felony cases be held in Pecos
unless they arose in Big Bend National Park - Baker's assigned territory.
Agents for the Border Patrol and DEA had complained about driving long
distances to Pecos for initial appearances, and Judge Royal Furgeson
earlier this year changed the ruling to allow them to take defendants to
the nearest magistrate.
"Like we used to do is what we are trying to get back to; the most
economical way for the sytem to operate," Baker said.
Cases arising at the Border Patrol's two checkpoints and at the Fort
Hancock port of entry in Hudspeth County are heard by El Paso
Judge Furgeson said those cases would be indicted and tried in Pecos,
but a Pecos case was indicted in El Paso on August 17. That defendant,
Arturo Enrique Aguilar, was on Judge Guirola's docket for arraignment
today on a charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana on
Construction on the new federal courthouse's parking lot is underway
today, and completion is expected in mid-November. Court personnel will
begin to move in shortly thereafter, and an open house is scheduled for
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Jacobo Froesse Friessen should not be considered
part of a sinister trend, no matter how much attention his case may get,
law enforcement authorities say.
The Mexican Mennonite was recently convicted of trying to smuggle 761
pounds of marijuana into El Paso, launching another spate of speculative
reports about a trend of Mennonites involved in the drug trade.
But law enforcement officials say that although several Mennonites have
been arrested in recent months, nothing indicates any kind of crime wave
A Mennonite couple was arrested last week at the Presidio port of entry
with 86 pounds of marijuana in their possession, said U.S. Customs
Cornelius Loewen, 39, and Sara Loewen, 39, are in Presidio County Jail
charged with importing and possessing marijuana for distribution.
They live in Cuauhtemoc, Chi., Mex., and hold dual citizenship in Mexico
``To my knowledge, we've had over the last four or five years a handful
of cases,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Stan Serwatka said. ``I'm curious as
to why everybody is concerned.''
Serwatka said he has received several calls, including one from as far
away as Mexico City, inquiring about Friessen's case and confesses he's
``miffed'' by the attention.
U.S. Customs Service agents arrested Friessen and another man April 21
after a drug-sniffing dog found 101 packages of marijuana in a secret
compartment of their vehicle when they tried crossed the Zaragoza
The Mennonite religious sect, which is known for its pastoral lifestyle
and the unadorned dress of its members, has a community in the Mexican
state of Chihuahua and members are seen frequently in the El Paso area.
Friessen, 32, was found guilty Tuesday of possession of a controlled
substance with intent to distribute and of importing a controlled
substance into the United States. The other man was reportedly released.
``It is very sad,'' Friessen's wife, Susana, said after her husband's
conviction. ``It is very sad for the children and my husband.''
Customs Special Agent Joseph Webber said six cases have been recorded in
the El Paso area during the last year that involved Mennonites and
But there has been no common link, said Webber, who also seems puzzled
by the interest the cases have generated.
``It has been quite a media phenomenon and there has been a lot of ink
spilt over it in the last few months,'' Webber said.
Law enforcement authorities warn against painting Mennonites with too
broad a brush. Rather, they say, arrests like Friessen's should be seen
as the result of the independent actions of individuals.
``Unfortunately, the lust for illegal gain seems to cross all kinds of
lines,'' said Webber.
Peggy McCracken contributed to this report
Cornelius Loewen, 39, and Sara Loewen, 49, of Cuahtemoc, Chi., Mex. are
charged with conspiracy to import, importation, conspiracy to possess
and possession with intent to distribute marijuana on August 26.
They were arrested as they crossed the international bridge at Presidio.
If convicted, they could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined
$250,000 on each of the four counts.
Shirley Ann Jaramillo, 45, of Loveland, Colo., is charged with
importation and possession with intent to distribute marijuana on August
19. She also was arrested at the Presidio port of entry.
Because the amount of marijuana was more than 50 kilograms, she could be
sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined up to $1 million if convicted.
Richard Arno Xerxa, 55, no address given, was indicted for possession
with intent to distribute marijuana. He was arrested August 11 in
Hudspeth County with more than 50 kilograms of marijuana, the indictment
alleges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and
fined $1 million.
Jose Ramon Guzman, 43, of Lynn, Mass. and Jeffery Michael Moore, 22, of
Lawrence, Mass., are charged with conspiracy to possess and possession
with intent to distribute marijuana on August 30. Their maximum sentence
if convicted is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
Michael Andre Woods, who was previously indicted for marijuana
possession, is charged with failure to appear for arraignment on that
indictment. He was scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Louis
Guirola Jr. in Midland Dec. 5, 1994.
If convicted, Woods could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined
$250,000 for failure to appear.
Glen Jackson, the assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to Pecos, presented
the charges to the grand jury.
Judge Furgeson accepted the guilty plea of Sylvestre Vera-Jimenez, 40,
of Mexico for possession with intent to distribute marijuana in excess
of 100 kilograms on May 8.
His maximum sentence is 5-40 years in prison with a four-year minimum
supervised release and $2 million fine. Sentencing will follow a
pre-sentence report by the probation department.
Judge Furgeson revoked the supervise release of Refugio Lujan-Madrid and
sentenced him to 60 months in prison, plus three years supervised
release for illegal re-entry.
Hignio Gonzalez-Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 months in prison and one
year supervised release for illegal re-entry after being departed.
Judge Furgeson held court in the second-floor courtroom of the Pecos
Post Office, which the court plans to vacate in mid-November when the
new courthouse is completed.
Workers affixed the name "United States Courthouse" above the front
entrance to the courthouse Monday as efforts continue to influence
Congress to name the building for Senior Judge Lucius Bunton.
Included in the forfeiture were 907 pairs of caiman lizard bowboy boots
and 2,554 pairs of boot vamps (pieces used in the lower parts of a boot,
between the sole and the upper portion).
In addition, a 15-count felony indictment for smuggling and violations
of the Lacey Act was returned by the grand jury in the Western District
of Texas against two people who sold the skins to Tony Lama usingh
fraudulent export permits.
"This is one of the largest forfeitures of protected animal parts ever
undertaken by the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney's
Office," said Nancy Kaufman, regional director of the service's
"We trust the forfeiture and our prosection of smugglers involved in
this trade will send a message to anyone comtemplating the idea of
making money from trading in protected wildlife species,"
The caiman lizard is an olive-brown lizard that inhabits the Amazon
Basin of South America. It can grow up 4½ feet in length. Its lustrous
skins are prized in cowboy boots, which retail from $700 to $1,000. Four
lizards are used to make one pair of boots. More than 13,800 caiman
lizads were sacrificed for the skins sold to the Tony Lama Boot Company.
Because its populations are threatened by commercial trade, the caiman
lizard is protected under the Convention on International Trade of
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). More than 125 of the
world's countries are members of CITES, a treaty that obligates members
to regulate international trade of plants and animals that could become
extinct without this protection.
Under CITES, member nations agree to control the import and export of
plant and animal species listed by the Convention. Species listed on
Appendix II of CITES, including the caiman lizard, are not immediately
threatened with extinction, but may become so if trade in the species is
not controlled. Countries may allow some commercial exportation of these
species, but export permits are required.
The investigation into the illegal trade of exotic reptile skins used in
the leather boot industry was begun in 1993 by Fish and Wildlife Service
law enforcement agents. The illegal trade of caiman lizard skins was
initially traced through a computer data base that records wildlife
imports and exports governed by CITES. Agents and wilflife inspectors
discovered that U.S. CITES permits and Mexican export permits were being
fraudulently acquired and illegally used for the worldwide movement of
caiman lizard skins and products.
Clinton said he would nominate James William Blagg, who spent the first
12 years of his legal career as a prosecutor and served as the first
assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District.
He joined the U.S. attorney's office in 1980 and became chief of the
criminal division the following year. Since leaving in 1985, Blagg has
been in private practice, where he has handled a general litigation and
criminal law practice.
He received numerous awards from federal law enforcement agencies for
his work in federal criminal law enforcement.
In 1984, he was awrded the Texas War on drugs Prosecutor of the Year
Blagg received his B.A. in government from St. Mary's University in San
Antonio and the J.D. in 1973.
He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army,
Infantry Division, and rose to the rank of captain, U.S. Army Reserves.
He and his wife, Nancy, live in San Antonio. They have three children.
James DeAtley is serving as interim U.S. Attorney, having been appointed
by the judges in the Western District to fill the vacancy created when
Hhelen Eversburg resigned.
Judge Bunton said that Blagg is pro-West Texas.
"I will request that he assign an assistant U.S. attorney to the Pecos
Division," he said.
Prosecutions in the Pecos Division are currently being handled by Glen
Jackson, a new assistant in the Midland office.
Julio Ramos-Cooper pleaded true to violating his supervised release by
failing to report to his probation officer, failing to notify his
probation officer of a change of address and in failing a urine test for
Ramos said he went to Austin to get a paying job, and when he returned
to Odessa he couldn't find his probation officer.
"Did somebody kidnap you, taking you off?" asked Judge Bunton. "Were you
threatened if you called probation to give them an address? Did anybody
make you take that cocaine?"
"No sir," said Ramos.
"What do you think I ought to do?" asked Judge Bunton.
"Help me find a better job so I can pay my fine," Ramos said.
His lawyer, Tony Chavez, said that Ramos did not violate his probation
by going to Austin because it is in the Western District of Texas.
"As far as the cocaine, he knows he did wrong. He told them (the test)
was going to be dirty.
"Since he's been locked up down here he's worked hard. They made him
trusty. He is head of the trusties in the kitchen. He made the newspaper
by capturing a bunch of bats at the museum."
"This is the first time I've had a batty defense presented," Judge
Chavez said that Ramos doesn't try to avoid paying for his crimes.
When he was first convicted it was only because of his confession, he
"He was going to Van Horn and looked around and couldn't find anything.
He went on and they stopped him and asked what he was doing. He said he
was supposed to pick up some marijuana.
"They offered him (a guilty plea to) misprison and he took it...but the
only reason they made the case on him was his confession."
Ramos served his time and was on supervised release when he violated the
terms of his release, Chavez said. Under the sentencing guidelines he
could be sentenced from 3-9 months for the violation.
"The last time you departed a whole lot upward (from the guidelines),"
Chavez told Judge Bunton. "I'm not asking you to depart downward, but
somewhere in the middle of the guidelines would be sufficient."
Thanksgiving is three months away, and Christmas is four months. "That
falls right smack in the middle of the guidelines. Give him a little
early Christmas for getting rid of those bats in the museum," Chavez
But Judge Bunton chose not to grant the little Christmas present,
instead opting for an Easter surprise of nine months.
Albert Mardin of Juarez, Mex. got even less sympathy for his plea to be
allowed to return to Mexico to care for his 7-year-old daughter.
Mardin violated his supervised release when he was arrested in Pearl,
Miss. with almost $40,000 in suspected drug money.
His attorney, Christine Kelso, argued for less than the 12-18 month
guideline sentence, claiming the offense in Mississippi was a Class B
She sought a sentence of time served because Mardin has been held for a
year but will get credit from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for part of
that due to delay in serving the arrest warrant.
"He continued in drug trafficking and should be held responsbile for
violating his supervised release," said assistant U.S. attorney Glen
"I understand I did wrong when I went to Mississippi...I made a mistake
and am here to pay for it," Mardin said. "But I have a little girl,
which makes my position a little different."
He said he had back problems and was unable to work when first released
from prison. But if allowed to return to Juarez, he could find a job.
"I won't let you live in Mexico," said Judge Bunton. "Get your
7-year-old child over here. I don't think you are a flight risk. The
reason you got in trouble is people in Juarez got you back into it. You
weren't thinking of your 7-year-old child.
"It will be better for you and much better for your child if you were to
live in the United States."
He did, however, take into consideration the time that Mardin has been
held prior to his court date and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
"I thought about giving you the full two years," he said. "I won't do
so. I think the guidelines are adequate in view of the delay."
Revoking Jesus Cerna's supervised release, Judge Bunton sentenced him to
51 months in prison, plus three years supervised release and ordered him
to serve 180 days in a halfway house.
Two suspects arrested Monday near Marfa were arraigned Wednesday in
Midland on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to
distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Guirola Jr. set a Friday detention hearing
for Carlos Pilar Garcia-Delgado, 32, of Odessa and El Paso and Felix A.
Urias, 19, of Presidio.
DEA Agent Dennis Lindsey, who filed the complaint, said the case will be
handled in Midland instead of Pecos because it has a connection with
Marfa Border Patrol Agent Wayne Wiemers initiated the investigation
after receiving an informant tip that the road to the Gibbons Ranch was
being utilized as a route for illegal activity, according to the
Agent Ross Bledsoe learned on Monday that a sensor indicated a vehicle
northbound on Highway 2810, a remote unpatrolled section of the border
with Mexico, and later encountered a truck on the Gibbons Ranch Road
that did not have its headlights on.
Bledsoe stopped the truck, which had Chihuahua, Mex. license plates and
was driven by Garcia, a resident alien, and Urias, a U.S. citizen, was a
A radio check of the two men showed that Urias had a prior arrest for
possession of marijuana. Bledsoe then called for a drug-sniffing dog,
who alerted to the front portion of the truck bed.
Agents located a false compartment containing 31 bundles of suspected
marijuana weighing 300.05 pounds. Both men said they were transporting
the marijuana to Odessa, the complaint alleges.
Richard Morrissey, chief of the Marfa sector, said the case was turned
over to the Midland DEA office because "it is an ongoing case that the
Midland DEA was working."
As to taking Reeves and Ward county suspects to Alpine, Morrissey said
"It is a matter of convenience, basically, and the low cost of jailing
them in this area."
Baker is available, Morrissey said, "and we haven't used her. We don't
want to lose her."
Guirola is in Pecos today for arraignment of suspects recently indicted
and for hearings in several other cases.
Portillo was arrested Wednesday at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol
checkpoint with 90 pounds of suspected cocaine in his possession,
according to the complaint filed by the DEA task force in Midland.
Sierra Blanca is in the Pecos Division, but a court source said the case
was filed in Midland because the DEA attempted to make a controlled
delivery to the intended recipient in Odessa.
Prosecutors filed a motion to detail Portillo without bail, and U.S.
Magistrate Louis Guirola Jr. set a detention hearing for Wednesday.
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324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321