Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sheriff Arvin West: the Man Who Busted Willie Nelson for Pot over Thanksgiving Weekend

Hudspeth County, Texas, is located on the Texas - Mexico border, and for several years now, Arvin West has been the local sheriff there.  Lots of folk are getting to know Texas Sheriff West this week - maybe you already recognize his name. 

After all, it was Sheriff Arvin West who was responsible for pulling over Willie Nelson's tour bus at a border partrol checkpoint on the day after Thanksgiving.  Instead of getting an autograph, though, law enforcement ended up arresting the 77-year-old country singer for possession of six (6) ounces of marijuana. 

Nelson was booked - the mugshot is a popular online item this week.  Willie was then released on $2500 bond and not long thereafter was back on the road again, going home to Austin.  If convicted, Willie Nelson faces a possible two years incarceration in a state facility. 

Who is Sheriff West anyway?

Sheriff Arvin West has testified before Congress about the growing problem of drug distribution by drug cartels in his jurisdiction - you can read his testimony online from a February 2006 presentation he gave to the Committee of the House of Representatives.  It's got a title:  "Armed and Dangerous: Confronting the Problem of Border Incursions."  

Sheriff Arvin West also regularly appears on the national news shows.  You can read the transcript of his April 2010 interview by Greta Von Susteren at FoxNews telling Greta that the Texas-Mexico border is "wide open" and that he's been telling farmers and ranchers in his jurisdiction to arm themselves against the dangers of drug runners, since his Sheriff's Department only has 17 deputies to cover 5000 miles.  Sheriff Arvin West has also appeared on Nightline in July 2010 (click the link to watch the video), calling the area as being under "siege" and that his fight against Mexican drug lords as "war."

Already, the Texas Tribune (among other news sources) are looking into Sheriff West and his own "Texas legend" status (quoting Glenn Beck).  According to their investigations, Sheriff West may have his own agenda for busting Willie Nelson -- it brings more media coverage, it boosts what some argue is Sheriff West's goals of maximizing state and federal funding for his department. 

So, there is a growing distrust of Sheriff West and his motives for busting Willie Nelson on the day after Thanksgiving. 

Willie Nelson Starts the "Teapot Party"

However, Willie Nelson may have an agenda of his own.  Shortly after his arrest, he started the "Teapot Party," which favors legalization of marijuana with the arguments that it cuts back on the criminal operations, and gives a new tax base to fund governments in sore need of revenue. 

If you didn't know this was a real news story, you might think you were reading an Elmore Leonard novel -- where the Texas Sheriff wearing the big white cowboy hat and the Country Music Legend wearing the bandanna were secretly friends who had cooked up this media plot.  But that would just be fiction, right?