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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, August 2, 2001

McLaren group set to begin trial in Midland court 

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- Jury selection and jury trial has been set for Monday for members  of the Republic of Texas, including their leader Richard McLaren on  federal weapons charges.

A trial on charges of violating the National Firearms Act against McLaren, his assistant, Robert "White Eagle" Otto, and three other Republic members, Richard Frank Keyes, Greg Paulson and Karen Simon Paulson is scheduled to begin before U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson in Midland on Monday. The federal weapons charges are separate from the state charges for which McLaren and the others were later convicted of following the standoff.

The former Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren and several of his associates declared themselves prisoners of war, before U.S. Magistrate Durwood Edwards in U.S. District Court in Pecos during their hearing in May.

Edwards ordered McLaren and four others detained pending their August trial on federal weapons charges, stemming from the 1997 standoff with Texas Rangers and other state law enforcement officials near Fort Davis.

May's bond hearing was held at the Lucius D. Bunton Federal Courthouse in Pecos. It was the same site where McLaren's run-in with Judge Bunton five years ago over illegally filed liens on property in the Davis Mountains helped spark the week-long standoff at McLaren's compound southwest of Fort Davis between April 27 and May 3, 1997.

During the hearing McLaren and the other defendants' arguments centered around a lack of jurisdiction by the federal court claiming that they were prisoners of war and as such were due a hearing under an international court a provision of the Geneva Convention.

The detention hearing is required by federal court rules once a person is taken into federal custody. Until recently the defendants were in state custody, either serving sentences from state convictions arising from the 1997 standoff in the Davis Mountains, some of which are pending appeal.

McLaren was ordered arrested by Bunton in April 1996 after failing to respond to a judgment against him for filing $1.8 billion in false property liens. When he failed to abide by the terms of his agreement with Bunton that allowed his release in June of 1996, a second arrest warrant was issued in December 1996. McLaren remained at his compound for the next four months, until neighbors Joe and M.A. Rowe were kidnapped on April 27, 1997, leading to the standoff with law enforcement officials.

Kidnapping convictions against McLaren and Otto were overturned by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in El Paso, and are pending an appeal by the state in Austin, while the Eighth Circuit's judges upheld the kidnapping conviction of Keyes.

Spilled food from crashes on interestates

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- Overnight accidents on Wednesday and early this  morning 40 miles east and 40 miles west of Pecos damaged some food  products causing a delay in shipments within the past 24 hours.

The first accident occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m., on Wednesday when a portion of the Ben E. Keith tractor-trailer carrying various food products flipped on its side on Interstate 20 near Monahans.

Pecos Health Department Director Armando Gil said that the truck, which had two trailers attached, was traveling from Abilene to Pecos when the accident occurred.

"The back trailer uncoupled from the main trailer and just flipped over on its side," he said.

Gil said that some of the food packages broke open during the accident so only 90 percent of the total load was salvageable.

He said that the driver of the truck was not injured in the accident and the tractor-trailer and food was sent back to Abilene for redistribution.

The second accident occurred at just after midnight today when a tractor-trailer carrying canned sliced jalapenos rolled on its side at mile marker 192 on Interstate 10, about 12 miles west of Balmorhea.

Gil said that the truck belonged to Hothi Trucking Company out of California and he believes the truck was coming from Monterrey, Mexico, where the jalapenos are canned. But Gil said he did not know where it was going.

Gil said that none of the canned jalapenos were damaged in the accident and are able to be redistributed.

"The product was not damaged at all," he said. "It was 100 percent salvageable."

Gil said that the tractor received most of the damage from this accident, while, "The trailer is in fairly good shape," he said. The driver of the vehicle was reported to have been slightly injured in the accident.

The Hothi tractor-trailer is currently at B&B Wrecker until the company can send another tractor to continue the journey, according to Gil.

Pair protests arrest, denies federal marijuana charges

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- After almost two months in the Reeves County Jail, Luis Ernesto  "El Negro" Valeriano-Valles continues to wait to see what will happen with  his case.

Valeriano-Valles had been a fugitive since 1999, when he was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a major federal conspiracy case.

He was named on four counts in the 15-county indictment and appeared in court in late June after being arrested in Presidio. Following a detention hearing before U.S Magistrate Judge Durwood Edwards at the Lucius Bunton Federal Courthouse in Pecos, Valeriano-Valles was ordered held without bond pending trial in U.S. District Court in Pecos on federal drug charges.

He denies the charges and said he was illegally taken from Mexico and turned over to the Presidio County Sheriff's Department

On June 14, Valeriano-Valles was taken from his son's home in the colonia de Emilano Zapata in Mexico while barbecuing, and taken across the border to Presidio, then returned to the U.S. after running back across to Mexico.

"I was at home when the two Federal Agents from Mexico came to get me," Valeriano-Valles said. "They had some drugs they wanted to sell. I told them that I did not do that any more."

Valeriano-Valles said that they then took him to the Rio Grande border where a Presidio County Sheriff's deputy was waiting for them. He asked the two agents what was going on and at that point the three men asked him not to move, aimed guns to him and handcuffed him.

"The two federal agents from Mexico then handed me over to the Sheriff deputy and walked off," Valeriano-Valles said. "When the deputy had me, I was able to get loose and still handcuffed I ran back across the border to Mexico."

When first hand cuffed, Valeraino-Valles said that the asked them what they were doing and as he spit on them and called them dirty pigs they began to hit him.

"They hit me not once, but several times," Valeraino-Valles said. "They wanted to make it seem like a movie."

As Valeriano-Valles ran back, he said that the deputy yelled back to the agents who where halfway gone that he had gotten way. The agents then turned back and meet him halfway and brought him down, cuffing his feet and the three men then put Valeriano-Valles into the car.

As Valeriano-Valles drove in the deputy's car, he recalls asking who the deputy was and what was going on.

"The guy told me to be quiet and later he introduced himself as Fernando Valenzuela," Valeriano-Valles said.

As the two drove down the road, Valeriano-Valles said the car that they were in started to overheat so they stopped and waiting to meet another vehicle carrying Presidio County Sheriff Marcos Baeza.

"When I saw Marcos, I asked him to call my family and let them know what was going on," Valeriano-Valles said. "In English, Valenzuela told Baeza not to call my family. I do not know how to speak in English but I can understand it a little."

As the two left in one car, according to Valeriano-Valles, Baeza had to return because the car started to heat up again.

A fourth man then took Valeriano-Valles to Alpine, where he had some charges against him for marijuana.

However, Valeriano-Valles said that during his bail hearing before Judge Edwards in Pecos they said that he was here because immigration had brought him over.

At this time Valeriano-Valles said that the government of Mexico has found one of the two federal agents who were involved in this matter.

"I have not had any legal problems in Mexico," Valeriano-Valles said. "Every one has helped me in Ojinaga. I have had public official from Mexico come and visit me."

Valeriano-Valles said that his family is taking the whole situation pretty hard.

"It does not bother me what is happening to me here," Valeriano-Valles said. "What bothers me is the way I was brought here. I feel for my mother."

Valeriano-Valles said that all he wants right now is his freedom and does not care about the money that he may receive because it would not be money he earned.

"I am 44-years-old, I am not made for this any more." Valeriano-Valles said. "Once you go try to straighten out, they try to find a way to bring you back. Hopefully, I get sent back to Mexico."

Valeriano-Valles also said that he has heard that he has been accused of laundering money.

"I can not be laundering money," Valeriano-Valles said. "I have a house on a small ranch where I raise stock and harvest. You can say that I live comfortably."

With three children going to school in the states, Valeriano-Valles said that he always pushed them away from him when he was in the business and he hopes the best for them.

Butterfield Festival in Monahans this weekend

Monahans News

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- The annual Butterfield and Wagon Festival officially kicks  off at 10 a.m. Saturday morning in Monahans with the festival  parade through downtown Monahans, while other events are planned  for the Ward County Coliseum.

The West Texas Trailriders, who will participate in Saturday's parade, began their 30-mile ride through Ward County this morning, leaving from Barstow and heading east along Business I-20.

Food and craft vendors and special games will be set up at the coliseum on south highway 18. Contests feature Horse Shoe Pitching, Turtle Racing, Washer Pitching, a Talent Contest and Sidewalk Chalk Drawing.

For those with a taste for real Texas barbecue, Melvin Craft is cooking up the brisket. Plates, which will include beans, potato salad and cobbler will be just $5 per plate, with half-portions available at just $3 each. Serving is set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the coliseum.

Entertainment, sponsored by County Judge Sam Massey, will feature cowboy humorist, Biscuits O'Bryan, renowned cowboy poet, Mike Loving and Cowboy Music Association Top Female Vocalist, Jean Prescott.

The rising stars of rodeo will be featured in a bull ride spectacular at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Monahans rodeo arena, located next to the Coliseum. Top college riders from all over the nation will challenge the bucking bulls in an eight second duel. Following the initial competition, the top bull riders will be featured in a short round. Professional rodeo clowns will entertain the crowd all the while protecting the riders.

As a special "mutton bustin'" treat, Ward County's future cowboys will saddle up their wooly steeds and take to the arena and an All-Kids Rodeo is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night in the rodeo arena. It is open to ages three through 20.

Tickets at $5 each will be available at the gate. For entry information, call Jimmy Price at 943-5513.

After Saturday's bull rides, festival-goers can dance under the stars to the country and western stylings of Jerry Duggan or just sit back and listen. Tickets are $5 each for adults; children six and under are free.

Ticket information on all these events is available at the Chamber of Commerce, 943-2187. Tickets may also be purchased Saturday at the Chamber booth, located just inside the coliseum.

PHS orientation for school year set for next week

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- Pecos High School will be having Orientation/Registration at the Pecos High School Auditorium next week.

Seniors will have orientation at 10 a.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 7; Juniors will register at 1 p.m., on Aug. 7; Sophomores at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and all freshman at 1 p.m., Aug. 8.

Students must bring completed registration form to receive a schedule.

Please bring your lunch application to orientation.


PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001 -- High Wednesday 103. Low this morning 75. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 70s. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph.  Friday: Mostly sunny. High 100 to 103. South to southeast wind 10 to  15 mph. Friday night: Mostly clear. Low in the mid 70s. Saturday  and Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs 100 to 103.


Christina Sanchez and Alberto Varela, Sr.

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