Only when Chambers shot at Larry White in the summer of 1987 was he indicted in Brewster County. White, a former friend and associate of Chambers, insisted the charge be made and White maintained the prosecution until September 1989. On the same day (September 1) White moved to drop the charge, 83d District Attorney Richard Barajas filed to dismiss the case.
Still, 83d District Judge Alex Gonzalez did not dismiss the assault indictment until October 20, 1989 when Ponton filed a motion alleging the Spring 1987 Brewster
County Grand Jury was improperly panelled. The grand jury which was specially panelled after the previous grand jury ran past its tenure.
While Ponton was working for federal defendant Chambers, he was also working with state prosecutors DA Richard Barajas, Assistant District Attorney Pete
P. Gallego, and County Attorney Val Clark Beard.
"Quien esta manejando la plaza." [Druglord, three editions, written by Terrance Poppa] "Colloquially, la plaza usually refers to police authority and his
Poppa's explosive book makes quite clear that the Mexican druglords are closely identified with the reigning politicians, police, and military. A major impediment to U.S.-Mexican treaties has been the persistent assertion by U.S. officials, especially the late Senator Jesse Helms, that the Mexican government is completely corrupt.
But from south of the river, including Ojinaga, there has been an equally persistent response—how can all the corruption be on the Mexican side of
Presidio County Sheriff R. D. "Rick" Thompson became sheriff May 3, 1973 following the murder of his predecessor E. D. "Hank" Hamilton. Since then,
Thompson has been President of the sheriff's association, chairman of the board of directors of the Region 8 Law Enforcement Training Academy in El Paso, and a leader of the Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Association. Thompson was also chairman of the board of directors of the West Texas Multi County Narcotics Task Force (WTMCNTF).
The Task Force operated along the Rio Grande river from El Paso to Brewster Counties from 1988 until Thompson's arrest in 1992.
The "task force" was funded by $60,000 in Texas state funds and $12,000 "matching" funds managed by the Texas Governor's Criminal Justice Division (CJD).
By the end of 1988, audits showed that $16,000 was improperly administered and local governments were required to reimburse the CJD. Thompson completely
misrepresented the results of the task force. He claimed $1.5 million in narcotics seized when in fact $5000 was seized. Thompson claimed 47 arrests—fewer
than 50 were made. Three were for the illegal purchase of six-packs of beer—2 Miller, 1 Bud.
In November 1989, 83d District Attorney Richard Barajas wrote the CJD and the Texas Attorney General that Thompson had destroyed the informant records of
the task force in October 1988. The records at the time were subject to state audit, criminal investigation, and The Nimby News' Open Records request. Barajas took Thompson briefly before the Presidio Grand Jury where the sheriff was promptly no-billed.
WTMCNTF administrators have consistently said that Thompson has no authority in Brewster County, nor does he exercise much operational authority within the WTMCNTF. Needless to say, no officer in the WTMCNTF was informed of Thompson's movement of one ton of cocaine to Marfa.
Before his arrest, Thompson warred on other police agencies for years. When individual officers were assigned to Presidio County, Thompson sets out to
intimidate or control each. And Thompson used the same tactic with other bureaucrats and even the press.
A tall heavy man, Thompson's targets wax eloquent regarding his embrace - he put his arm around you. He came as close as possible to look down on shorter men and women. He patted a woman on the behind. His eyes would widen with expression. He made grand sweeping movements with hat and arm in the courtroom.
Thompson was a brazen, ambitious and opportunistic good-old-boy West Texas politician.
The preceding story was written in late 1991 and published in Issue 20 of The Nimby News in Alpine,Texas. A copy of the issue is filed in the Archives
of Sul Ross State University, also in Alpine. We have made some changes for clarity and length.
In 1992 Rick Thompson plead Guilty to conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. According to several sources, he is still incarcerated serving a life sentence
in a federal prison. Thompson's co-conspirator Robert Chambers was also sentenced to life in prison but he was released after 18 years because he cooperated with federal prosecutors. One told me he was living in a Texas town and working in road construction.
BUSTED--from Page 1