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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, January 6, 1999

Phone crews cut Cedar Street water line

Staff Writer
Weary travelers, Wal-Mart employees and gas station workers along South Cedar Street had to do without one of life's most precious commodities all night and at least for part of today.

Water was unavailable to Quality Inn, Motel 6, Interstate Texaco, I-20 Exxon, Wal-Mart and Hector's Wrecker Service due to a water line that was damaged both Tuesday afternoon and later that night by telephone line installers.

"Craig Enterprise construction company was out here laying out some lines, when they struck and broke one of our water lines," said Town of Pecos City Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia.

The first time they broke the line, water and sewer employees fixed the break right away, according to Garcia.

"But then they broke it in another place and we again came out here and repaired it," said Garcia.

After employees fixed it the first few times they noticed it was leaking in other places where the line installers had damaged it.

"It was broken in about four or possibly five places," said Garcia.

Employees with the water and sewer department worked all night in trying to repair the eight-inch line. "We'll have to replace about 80 feet of it with eight-inch PVC line," said foreman Ray Orona.

Orona explained that the repairs are being made starting with the first part of the line that was broken. The repairs extend all the way past Wal-Mart, in the 1900 block of South Cedar Street, and towards Interstate 20.

"I wish I could tell these people when they will have water again, but all we can tell them at this point is that we're working as fast as we can," said Orona.

The first call city employees received that the contractors had broken a line was at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. "We fixed that one and then at 2:30 p.m. we received the second call," said Garcia.

Employees were on the job at the same location again at 7 p.m. and then at 10:30 p.m. last night. "We've been here all night trying to repair the damage," said Garcia.

Garcia explained that the "fiasco" is not the city's fault, but that employees have been working diligently in fixing the problem. "We have enough materials to fix this, but I'm hoping nothing else comes up, because we don't want to run short of materials," he said.

"There's no telling if we'll find another one," said Orona of the broken spots in the line.

He is currently overseeing the city crew working on repairing the damage and said the employees have been very good about being on the job all night and into the morning on this problem. "We want to fix this right away, so that all these businesses can receive water," said Orona.

Sam Patel, owner of Quality Inn, said he had some angry guests, but most overall understood the situation. "We've had some understanding people, but then you get these guests that think you're God and everything should be perfect," said Patel.

"I do want to say that as soon as I called the city, they were out here right away," said Patel. "They've been just great about it, working all night and doing everything they can to fix it right away."

"I'm just grateful that they were so nice about it and I understand that it's a problem that was out of their control," Patel said.

On the other hand, Lupe Davis, manager of Motel 6, stated that they have lost a lot of revenue because of the problem. "We didn't know until late last night and we've had a lot of unhappy guests," said Davis.

"I just wish they would have told me we weren't going to have any water at all, so that I could alert the guests, as it is they were very upset," she said.

Davis said the motel had about 48 guests last night and they lost about half of them due to the problem. "If we would've known earlier about the problem, we could have prepared for it," she said. "Now I'm just hoping they fix it, we need to bring more guests in today."

Drug task force getting FBI, DEA assistance

Staff Writer
Drug dealers in the Permian Basin may want to lay low this year, with law enforcement agencies from the city through the federal level working together to put them behind bars.

One drug task force is already at work in 11 counties, and another is expected to launch operations this month. Both said they will work with each other and with non-participating agencies to stop the flow of drugs through West Texas.

David Bradshaw, commander of the West Texas Narcotics Task Force headquartered in Midland, said his group includes an FBI agent so they can make arrests in any county. And he expects to add a DEA agent to the staff. Their expertise in filing federal court cases is a big help, he said.

Since putting investigators on the street in mid-October, the task force has taken $680,000 worth of narcotics out of circulation and assisted other agencies with another $117,000 worth (street value). With 82 active investigations, they have made 42 arrests and seized five vehicles.

Two interdiction officers work traffic on the highways, while the other 14 officers work either open investigations or under cover.

Interdiction officers stop traffic violators and talk with them to determine if they may be hauling contraband, Bradshaw said. They also stop to assist stranded motorists.

One such assist recently resulted in the seizure of 367 pounds of marijuana when casual conversation with the driver aroused the officer's suspicion, Bradshaw said.

"In training, especially with interdiction, you use common sense and logic," Bradshaw said. "You ask a general question and see if the answer makes sense."

Bradshaw said the task force will use reverse sting drug deals to catch crooks if the opportunity arises.

"When it comes to dealing with drug dealers, you need to throw every rock you have," he said, and that includes pooling information from all agencies working on a particular case.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said he agrees, and he expects the Permian Basin Task Force he will head to work with Bradshaw and any other agency that needs help.

"We will work with anybody when it comes to narcotics," he said. "The task force, the DEA it is not competitive."

Paperwork has gone in for state funding of the new task force that has eight agencies signed up, Gomez said. "They say maybe by the 15th of January."

Drug dealers and users may want to heed the advice of the late Satchel Paige: "Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you."

Border Patrol K-9s busy over holidays

Alpine Border Patrol agents seized more than 700 pounds of marijuana over the holiday season.

In three separate incidents, agents and their K-9s uncovered almost $600,000 worth of narcotics, said Simon Garza Jr., chief patrol agent for the Marfa Sector.

"With the recent addition of three more K-9 units to the Alpine station, narcotics seizures are expected to increase dramatically," said Garza.

The three new K-9s have recently completed training at the National K-9 Facility in El Paso, where they went through a rigorous program to become Border Patrol K-9s, Garza said.

Senior instructors selected the dogs for their stable character, perseverance, drive, courage, confidence and their ability to work under diverse situations. The dogs were trained for four weeks before the new handlers began training with them for an additional five weeks.

The Border Patrol uses both German Shepherds and Belgian Malinios, which are known for their keen abilities. These dogs are usually 2 years old when they start their training and continue to work for eight to 10 years until retirement.

Garza said the Border Patrol uses K-9s primarily to search for hidden people, but with the increased exposure to narcotics along the southern border, they are trained to find marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and others.

Marfa Sector alone seized more than 46,000 pounds of marijuana and more than 500 pounds of cocaine last year, most found after a K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics, Garza said.

The sector, which stretches from the Rio Grande to Amarillo, has received several K-9 units in the past year, and with the increase in funding, will receive several more.

Feds seeking forefeiture of Suburban

Staff Writer
Gift wrapping wasn't enough to hide a bundle of marijuana from a drug-sniffing dog at a Border Patrol checkpoint, and the driver of the Suburban transporting it lost his vehicle, at least temporarily.

Joel M. Verity of Miami, Fla., drove the 1994 GMC Suburban into the checkpoint four miles west of Sierra Blanca at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 12. While an agent questioned him about his citizenship, he noticed that K-9 Lyka alerted to the rear door of the vehicle.

Asked if there was any narcotics in the vehicle, Verity said, "yes," and indicated it was in the back seat. Agents found 105.2 pounds of marijuana in two gift-wrapped packages in the back seat, the forfeiture complaint alleges.

Verity was arrested and his vehicle seized. Sheila Eckert of Buffalo, N.Y. filed a claim to the vehicle, and the government seeks judicial forfeiture through the Pecos Division of federal court.


High Tuesday 72; low last night 29. Tonight and Thursday, partly cloudy. Low around 30. High around 70. light southwest wind tonight increasing to 10-20 mph Thursday.

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Pecos Enterprise
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