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Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov [KE]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — March 1, 2004

Pursuit Ends in Seizure of Nearly 2,500 Pounds of Pot

MARFA, Texas – Brewster County Game Warden Ray Spears was on patrol recently in Presidio County when he observed what appeared to be a spotlight out in a pasture at a ranch coming from a Ford Excursion. When he saw the vehicle leave the pasture and take off on Highway 90, he attempted to stop the vehicle, and the chase was on.

The pursuit lasted for approximately 18 miles with the suspect attempting to ram an assisting Marfa Police Department vehicle. Several agencies responded to the pursuit call and set up road spikes. The suspect and Spears lost tires to the spikes, but the pursuit continued. The suspect was still running and about to enter the city of Marfa when the warden shot out one of the tires.

“When he started running from me and I saw what type of vehicle it was, I thought there might be some contraband,” Spears said.

And was there ever.

A check of the vehicle revealed 2,460 pounds of marijuana. The suspect and contraband were turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents who will prosecute the case in federal district court. Juan Torres, 22, of 1417 N. Lauderdale, Odessa, was charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and illegal international importation of a controlled substance. These are federal felonies and if convicted, Torres is subject to a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. He was arraigned in Alpine before a U.S. Magistrate and is being held without bond.

Spears said it is becoming more and more common for wardens to run into drug traffickers because they work a lot on ranches checking hunting licenses and drug smugglers sometimes cut through private ranches to circumvent checkpoints. But folks who are doing this are getting caught, as evidenced by Spears’ discovery. The marijuana is being held as evidence by a seized property custodian and will be destroyed after the case is adjudicated.

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