December 12, 1997
Local family indicted on multiple drug charges
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - A Pecos High School senior who
will be 18 tomorrow was indicted by the Reeves County Grand
Jury yesterday for alleged organized criminal activity and
delivery of cocaine and marijuana.
Skyler Avery Bechtel, 17, allegedly delivered cocaine to an
undercover officer with the Permian Basin Drug Task Force
Nov. 20 and Nov. 22. Indictments also allege the delivery of
marijuana on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 and possession of more than
four ounces of marijuana on Dec. 10.
One of the cocaine deliveries was made at a video arcade,
Dan's Music and Video, 312 S. Cedar St., the indictment
alleges. Both marijuana deliveries and the possession charge
were at the Bechtel home, 902 S. Hickory St. - that is
within 1,000 feet of Pecos Kindergarten. That enhances
punishment from a third-degree felony to second-degree, said
District Attorney Randy Reynolds.
Frank William Bechtel, 43, and his wife, Alta Ruth Bechtel,
47, are charged with three counts each of organized criminal
activity in connection with their son's marijuana deliveries
from their home.
They allegedly conspired with Skyler to deliver more than
one-fourth ounce of marijuana on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 and
possessed more than four ounces of marijuana on Dec. 10.
Reynolds said that organized criminal activity is alleged
when three or more people combine to commit a crime. The
investigation into the parents' involvement is on going, he
He stressed the serious nature of selling drugs within 1,000
feet of a school, which is designated a "drug free zone,"
and from the drive-up window of a video arcade.
"We don't believe the owners of Dan's were involved in any
way," Reynolds said. The undercover officer who made the
cocaine buy at the drive-up window said he met Skyler
Bechtel at another location and arranged to pick up the
cocaine at the window because Bechtel had to go to work.
Dan's owner Ronny Daniel said that he hired Bechtel in
August, but he had no idea he was dealing drugs.
"I hire employees to do their job, and their job is not to
sell anything illegal or to sell alcohol to a minor," Daniel
said. "I can only be responsible to a certain extent, and
that's to see that they do their job. I certainly would have
no knowledge of any employees of mine doing anything
Daniel said he learned of the arrest at midnight Wednesday,
when police notified him they found some of his rental
videos in the Bechtel home when they arrested the three on
marijuana possession charges.
But he said he did not know about the indictment for
cocaine delivery from his drive-up window until contacted by
the Pecos Enterprise last night.
Reynolds said a search of the Bechtel home turned up 5.5
ounces of marijuana, roach clips and scales of the type used
to weigh drugs for distribution in the master bedroom.
Additional paraphernalia was located in Skyler's room, he
Both parents are employed by the state. The Department of
Public Safety suspended Frank William "Bill" Bechtel with
pay at 1 p.m. yesterday, pending the outcome of an internal
investigation, said regional communications supervisor Toby
Bechtel's position as communications operator will remain
open until the matter is resolved, and the staff is doubling
up in the meantime, Martin said.
Alta Ruth Bechtel is employed as a casework secretary at the
West Texas State School in Pyote. Pamela Ward, Texas Youth
Commission public information officer, said that Bechtel
notified her supervisor Thursday that she had been arrested,
and she is not working at this time.
"We look at any employee's violation of law very seriously,
but we also remember they have rights of due process, and
they have to be treated fairly and properly," she said.
TYC has three choices: to reassign the employee, to suspend
or to terminate.
"If she were ultimately convicted, we would take appropriate
action, but we want to be careful," Ward said. "At this
point it is just a charge, and we want to be sure her rights
are protected until this takes its course.
Reynolds said it disturbs him that employees who are
entrusted with enforcing the law are charged with violating
it, and that a high school student who has access to fellow
students is caught selling drugs.
"It really burns me up to think about a guy that has access
to high school kids selling drugs," he said. "That makes it
accessible to those that might not ever try it otherwise.
They know where to go to get it."
Citizen complaints triggered the investigation by the local
drug task force and district attorney, said Reynolds. They
brought in an undercover officer with the Permian Basin Drug
Task Force to make the purchases.
"This was local people doing local things for the
community," Reynolds said.
Bail was set at $25,000 on each of the organized criminal
activity counts and at $15,000 on the two delivery of
cocaine counts. A spokesman at the Reeves County Sheriff's
Department said this morning the warrants on the indictments
have not been served.
On the original charge of marijuana possession lodged
Wednesday night, the family posted bail yesterday and
Jury hears testimony in border shooting
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - Federal grand jurors adjourned
yesterday without taking action after hearing testimony on a
civil rights investigation of a shooting near Redford last
U.S. Marine Cpl. Clemente Banuelos shot and killed Ezequiel
Hernandez Jr., 18, a high school student from Redford as he
tended goats near the family home May 20.
Three other Marines patrolling the Rio Grande area with
Banuelos have testified during two grand jury sessions,
which began last month. The next session is set for Jan. 8.
Jerald Crow of Conroe, who represents Lance Cpl. James
Blood, said his client testified yesterday for about two
hours. He had already testified before a state grand jury in
Presidio County, where Banuelos was no-billed, as did the
other two Marines, Ronald Weiler and Roy Torrez.
"There have been a lot of other things in between (that
grand jury and today's)," Crow said.
Barry Kowalski, an assistant U.S. Attorney with the civil
rights division in Washington, D.C., is heading up the
investigation, assisted by Jackie Spratt.
Crow said that Blood, Weiler and Torrez have also been
interviewed in Washington, D.C.
"The Marine Corps is conducting a simultaneous investigation
concerning training and preparation for military people who
are put on the border to help protect the border - stop
drugs or illegal immigrants," he said.
The Marine Corps is focusing on the way the operation was
carried out and whether it should be changed, Crow said.
"I don't know the status of that investigation. It is still
ongoing," he said.
Crow said he has been representing Blood since about two
weeks after the shooting.
"I was hired by the Department of Justice to represent him
in the state grand jury proceedings," he said. Representing
the other Marines are Jack Zimmermann of Houston (Banuelos):
Dan Hagood of Dallas (Weiler) and Mike Gross of San Antonio
Blood is not a target of the federal investigation, Crow
said, but was asked to testify. Since the state grand jury
hearing, Crow has represented Blood in a private capacity.
He was not allowed into the grand jury room, but waited
nearby in case his client wanted to confer with him.
"I hope we get a decision and don't have to keep coming down
here," Crow said. "They are investigating it because there
is a specter of a civil rights violation. This lawyer
(Kowalski) handled the Rodney King case. He is a bulldog.
They are doing a thorough job."
An FBI agent and Texas Ranger who were present declined to
discuss the case.
Also present outside the grand jury room were Jesus and
Diana Valenzuela of Redford. Valenzuela said he is a cousin
to Ezequiel Hernandez, Sr.
At the close of yesterday's session, the grand jury foreman
handed up two marijuana possession indictments to U.S.
Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt.
Charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana
are Jose Delapaz Moreno, 29, of Longmont, Colo. (59.9 pounds
on Dec. 11) and Juan Manuel Villanueva Guarjardo, 32, of
Neuva Laredo, Mex., (161.26 pounds on Dec. 10).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Brigman of Alpine presented
Housing authority meets today
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - An update on CIAP 1996 is planned
for this afternoon's meeting of the Pecos Housing Authority
board, scheduled for 5 p.m., at the administration office,
600 Meadowbrook Drive.
A resolution for approval will be on the agenda to award
PHA/FLH employees with an annual bonus of $25 each from the
The group will also decide on whether or not to write off
collection losses on Efren Natividad, $115; Hector Chavez,
$155; Herlinda Villalon, $245 and Delma Rodriguez, $172.
Other items on the agenda include communication on CIAP 96
pre-construction conference minutes; CIAP 96 start work
notice dated Dec. 8; CIAP 96 Renovation plan by phases and
approved actual modernization cost certificate (AMCC) close
out of 1993 CIAP.
Monthly income and expense reports; monthly accounts payable
and monthly occupancy reports will also be discussed.
Council opts for letter of complaint
By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - Classic Cable Operations Manager
Ben Hernandez yesterday asked the Pecos City Council to have
patience and be reasonable in regard to cable television
reception and outage problems.
Hernandez said that during the last six-month period of
operation he was able to track 10 outages, averaging about
2.79 hours per outage. He defined an outage as an
interruption of service that resulted in four or more calls
Some outages were related to return lines, others to lost
electronics and a couple to power problems, Hernandez said.
The most noticed, and strongly lamented, outage occurred
during the Dallas Cowboys football game of Nov. 16 when Fox
network went off the air for several hours.
"You realize that was the last game that Dallas won," City
Finance Director Steve McCormick interjected.
Hernandez stated that Fox network had lost power at its
repeater station that day. "We have absolutely no power over
that," he said.
"We average about 1.6 outages per month," Hernandez said,
"That's not a bad track record."
Responding to the council's request that $3 be credited to
the more than 3,000 Pecos customers as a result of poor
reception and service, Hernandez said that if subscribers
are left with a blank screen for more than 24 hours the
company would be glad to give refunds. Often, he said,
problems are caused by people doing their own work. "Store
bought jumpers (cause problems). A lot of people are doing
their own outlets and either don't crimp or buy cheap
Councilman Randy Graham asked that Classic Cable supply the
council with logs of all complaints for the next couple
months so that the council may monitor the situation for
After questioning by Councilman Danny Rodriguez regarding
the feasibility of accumulating outage hours for a refund,
Hernandez asked for patience. "Be reasonable with us . . .
Be patient with us. Especially dealing with electronics,
things are going to happen."
Aiming to eliminate all outages is unrealistic, Hernandez
said, considering that many types of repair and upgrade work
require brief outages of service. "There must be a certain
number of outages for service," he said.
But council members and cable reps agreed that the worst
outages were those that happened on the Fox network and the
council agreed to draft a letter that would be sent to Fox
corporate headquarters and the office in Odessa complaining
of the poor service.
According to FCC guidelines, Fox network is only responsible
for providing the Pecos area with a "nominal signal,"
Hernandez said. "Now, you define nominal for me," Hernandez
jokingly asked of the council.
Many complaints the council received regarding Classic Cable
service have to do with unwanted channels coming in too
clearly. Hernandez asked that those customers call the
company, saying that it is a simple enough thing to "trap
out" the unwanted signal.
Big news concerning economic development for the community
came before the council when Bob Curry reported on recent
negotiations with Illinois steel company Meta Tec Inc. that
is hoping to bring a portion of its business to Pecos.
A Meta Tec representative recently stumbled across Pecos
while scouting the area from his recreational vehicle. Meta
Tec hopes to open a training facility in Pecos for a larger
operation they will be moving to Ojinaga, Mexico. This
training facility will employ about 12 persons, with
salaries in the $30-$40 thousand range, Curry said. After
the training, six employees would likely remain in Pecos.
Curry said that the company is ready to set up and start
training. He expects the President of Meta Tec to be in
Pecos the later part of January.
"It's coming here one way or another," Curry said, "I want
it coming here with the cooperation of the taxing entities."
Curry asked for - and got - a letter of support from the
council to encourage the company to move to Pecos. He said
that with the market in Juarez so saturated many companies
are looking to Ojinaga to open their factories. "This puts
us right in line," he said.
The council approved the second reading of an amendment to
city code, section 22-3, that sets the probationary period
for city employees at three months (six months for police
department employees) to be used for the evaluation of the
employee's performance. During the probationary period, the
employee is not entitled to sick leave or city insurance and
at the end of the period the employees supervisor will
report to the city manager as to the employees work
performance and general characteristics.
Councilman Randy Graham was elected, on a recommendation by
Mayor Dot Stafford, to represent the city on the board of
the Economic Development Corporation. Board member Curry
promised that Graham would be "kept busy" working for the
Council members were in favor of soliciting proposals for
the final closing of Trench 1, Area B, at the Pecos
landfill. The landfill officially closed on Dec. 2 on the
first day of the transfer station's operations. The stations
will serve to transport waste from Pecos and other area
cities to the Penwell landfill.
The purchase of a fire truck for the Fire Department, priced
at $139,224 with options, was approved after Fire Chief Jack
Brookshire warned that a delay until January would increase
the total cost of the truck six percent. A grant is expected
to cover $25,000 of the total and the department plans to
sell off its 1975 model truck.
The Council also voted for the purchase of a 1982 model
Vector Vacuum Truck, with only 16,000 miles on the odometer,
at the cost of $47,900. Pecos Water Superintendent Octavio
Garcia, who was part of a task force sent to Albuquerque to
examine the truck, said it was "in real good shape." He also
said that parts for the truck were readily available should
repairs need to be made.
Realizing that the donation of property located at Third and
Mesquite streets (formerly known as the Mesquite Lounge and
slated for demolition) would both save the city money and
improve the area, the council voted to donate it to the
Catholic War Veterans. It would cost the city an estimated
$1,000 to demolish the building.
Representing the Catholic War Veterans, Ralph Hernandez said
"We would like to fix up the place to meet in and help
generate funds for the post." Hernandez made a token bid for
the property of $10. Brookshire said the property only had
to be brought up to city code to get off the condemned list.
The council accepted a leasing contract with Mr. and Mrs.
James P. Marquez who wish to open a boxing gym in a building
located at 1104 S. Cedar pending the approval of the other
taxing entities. Mrs. Marquez said they had not heard back
from the hospital or the county, but were told that the
school board could not take action until January.
Johnson said he was in support of anything that filled up a
building and did something for the kids. "Empty buildings
are in surplus around here," he said. But Johnson also
stressed the importance of getting adequate insurance for
In executive session, the council voted in favor of raising
the city manager's salary from $42,500 to $50,000.
The next meeting date for the council was changed from
Christmas day to Dec. 23. City offices will be closed Dec.
24 and 25.
PBT board considers campus progress
By CARA ALLIGOOD
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD held its
regular meeting for the month of December yesterday evening.
Many of the district's administrators used a report from the
Texas Education Agency to discuss the progress that their
campuses are making, an interlocal agreement to begin a
community wellness program was discussed and an irate
homeowner addressed the board.
As the meeting began with sounds of the annual Christmas
parade leaving its assembly area across the street, members
of Kim Burner's enhanced fifth-grade class from Bessie
Haynes Elementary gave an entertaining presentation on two
books that the class has rewritten.
Administrators from various campuses presented lengthy
discussions on the progress their respective campuses have
been making according to the Academic Excellence Indicator
System (AEIS) report put out by the Texas Education Agency.
Specific details of the report will be covered by the Pecos
Enterprise next week.
Beau Jack Hendrick, principal of Austin Elementary, spoke
about both his campus and Pecos Elementary, because Gail
Norris, principal of Pecos Elementary, was out of town.
He said that the two schools are paired, and that although
Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) isn't given at
the first and second grade levels that are housed at Austin,
Austin's attendance rates affect Pecos Elementary's ratings
on the AEIS report.
"Pecos Elementary has a very good reputation. They were a
recognized campus the past two years," Hendrick said.
Gome Olibas, principal of both Barstow Elementary and Lamar
Middle School, said that both of his campuses came close to
reaching exemplary status this year.
"Zavala was a recognized campus for the first time for the
96-97 school year," said Don Love, principal of the seventh
Danny Rodriguez, Pecos High School principal, spoke mainly
about the tenth-grade results because that is the grade
level at which the exit-level TASS is given. The test is not
given to ninth graders, and is only taken by eleventh and
twelfth graders who didn't pass the test in tenth grade.
Rodriguez said that mathematics "is an area that we're
really working with."
After the administrators finished their presentations,
Interim Superintendent Kenn Norris, who said that the school
district is "all about academics," spoke to everyone at more
length about how the district is doing, and what they can do.
"In this district, we seem to not have everything where it
is supposed to be. Everything has an orderly position,"
"We are not interested in defeat. We are not interested in
how poor we are," Norris continued. "We can do whatever we
set out to do."
Norris said that "we take where we are, and we plan where we
want to be."
He stressed that "attendance is one of our big concerns
right now." The district loses about $22 a day for each
student who is absent.
The PBT ISD is considering entering into an interlocal
agreement with Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City to
form a community wellness program. According to the plan
presented by Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, the city and
county will contribute funds to upgrade school facilities in
exchange for public access to those facilities. New
facilities such as a racquetball court may also be built.
According to Galindo, the city and county prefer to work out
an agreement with the school district to building new
facilities from the ground up.
PBT Athletic Director Mike Belew said that he "was
definitely interested" in the idea.
City Councilmen Johnny Terrazas and Randy Graham both spoke
in favor of the interlocal agreement. Terrazas pointed out
that such a program might help to draw new businesses to the
Pecos area and said "this program would be a great asset to
Trustee Freddy Lujan will serve on a committee with Norris
and Belew to work with city and county officials interested
in devising a plan that will work for all the entities
A few tense moments occurred while a local homeowner
addressed the board regarding delinquent taxes that caused
the district's tax attorney's firm to list his home as being
up for sale in an attempt to collect the back taxes.
Manuel Rubio, a local plumber and owner of a home on Park
Street, admitted that he is behind on taxes but was upset
that his home had been listed in a legal notice published in
the Pecos Enterprise as being available for sale in an
PBT ISD's tax attorney, Russell N. McInturff, explained that
his firm had the notice published and listed homes on which
there are delinquent taxes and no written repayment plans.
Rubio stated that he never received notices of the firm's
intent to sell the property "from under" him. McInturff
responded that the notices, which his firm sends as a
courtesy to taxpayers, were sent and that the firm is not
legally obligated to do so. He said that the firm's only
legal obligation to notify homeowners is in the form of the
The two discussed the situation before the board at some
length as voices rose.
"One of the problems we have right now, Mr. Rubio, is that
we have two million dollars owed to us in back taxes," said
board president Frank Perea, who said that the school needs
the money to fund its programs.
The most tense moment was when Rubio said that only Mexicans
were being targeted to have their homes sold because of
"That is absolutely untrue, and I refuse to stand for those
kinds of charges," said McInturff.
Rubio said that he had been making payments, but did not
have a payment agreement in writing with anyone.
McInturff stated several times that his firm is interested
in helping homeowners to work out payment agreements that
they can handle, not in taking their property away from
them, but that by law, all payment agreements must be in
McInturff said that since the sale notice was published,
Rubio did work out a payment agreement and his house has
been removed from the sale.
Girls' softball was approved for this year, despite nay
votes from both Linda Gholson and Daisy Roquemore. Gholson
stated that her nay vote was not because she is against the
program, but she is concerned with the legality of the
district investing in property that they don't own.
Under a proposed agreement with Reeves County, both entities
would split the cost of having lights installed at Martinez
Field. The school district would have to pay about $15,000
for that, as well as footing the electric bills during the
softball season. The county would take care of the field's
maintenance and pay the electric bills during the off-season.
Based on research of past documents, it was Norris'
recommendation that a long-term substitute must teach in the
same classroom for the same teacher for 20 consecutive days
to qualify for the higher pay rate of $60 per day, instead
of the regular rate of $50 per day. Jury duty would not be
counted as an absence. The board voted according to his
recommendation to require the 20 days to be consecutive to
receive the higher pay.
Because of a past promise to teachers of visually
handicapped students, their pay will be increased to two
steps on the pay scale above where they are according to
their years of experience, and the will receive an
additional $2,500 upon obtaining certification. The raise
will be made retroactive to the beginning of the school
year, with the provision that the policy will be reviewed if
one of the current teachers, who this promise was made to,
leaves and is replaced.
The Zavala Middle School Seventh Grade library and lab
technology project was approved at $20,000. "There is
already $15,000 in the maintenance budget that the business
manager (Cookie Canon, who was not present) said could be
earmarked for this," said Norris.
After a closed session that was called to discuss
Administrative Assistant applicants and other personnel,
open session resumed and 12:32 a.m.
No action was taken on what the Administrative Assistant's
salary will be, nor on who the Interim Superintendent will
recommend for the position.
The appointment of Sam Joseph Campo and the resignation of
third grade teacher Walter McKee were approved unanimously.
The fuel bid will be revisited at the next regular meeting,
which will be held Jan. 15.
Current bills were approved for payment.
Nine indicted on drug charges
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - Cocaine and marijuana were the
drugs of choice yesterday when the Reeves County grand jury
indicted nine persons for possession and/or delivery of
Johnny Lowell Strain, 17, is charged with delivery of a
controlled substance, cocaine, within 1,000 feet of real
property owned by a school district - 1201 W. Fourth St. -
on Nov. 12.
Delivery in a drug-free zone around school property moves
the third-degree felony charge to second degree.
Rafael Valles Medina, 36, is charged with possession of
cocaine, less than one gram, on Nov. 29.
Carole Janet Cone, 42, is charged with possession of more
than five pounds of marijuana on Oct. 29.
Dagoberto M. Rodriguez, 39, is charged with possession with
intent to deliver cocaine, less than one gram, on Sept. 19.
Anna Luisa Barreno, 36, is charged with possession with
intent to deliver cocaine, less than one gram, on Sept. 19.
Santiago Natividad Fuentez, 40, is charged with possession
with intent to deliver cocaine, less than one gram, on Sept.
The indictments resulted from an undercover investigation
initiated by the local drug task force, with cooperation of
the Permian Basin Drug Task Force.
Bail was set at $15,000 on each charge except for Medina and
Cone, which is $10,000.
PECOS, December 12, 1997 - High Thursday, 38, low this
morning, 19. Another cold night is in store across all of
Texas tonight before a warming trend gets under way on
Saturday. Temperatures will be around or below the freezing
mark as far south as the Lower Rio Grande Valley before dawn
Saturday. Skies will be clearing so that means an end to
the brief periods of snow flurries. It will be mostly sunny
during the day and clear at night across West Texas through
Saturday. Lows tonight will be in the teens and 20s in West
Texas. Highs Saturday will be in the 40s and 50s.
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.