- Associated Press - Thursday, March 2, 2017

PRESIDIO, Texas (AP) - A protest organizer at the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in western Texas has been arrested after investigators discovered he was wanted in California.

Presidio County sheriff’s officials say the man initially provided fake social security cards indicating his name was Pete Hefflin, KOSA-TV reported. But after fingerprinting, authorities discovered he was 56-year-old Pedro Rabago Gutierrez, who has been wanted in California since 2007 for a parole violation.

Gutierrez was on parole after serving about six years in prison, following convictions in 1984 on charges that included forcible rape and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, according to the California Department of Corrections.

It’s unclear when he began using the name Pete Hefflin in Texas, where he Gutierrez has fought against pipeline companies. He also helped open the largest protest camp in West Texas aimed at blocking the Trans-Pecos pipeline, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Protesters at the camp were stunned after Gutierrez’s arrest. Frankie Orona, executive director of the Society of Native Nations, said Gutierrez was part of their circle and family.

“But then again, we’ve always been about holding people accountable, and in this situation, he was definitely wrong,” Orona said. “I am upset with him.”

The Sierra Club urged for protests to continue, noting that the Trans-Pecos pipeline was two months away from completion. A spokeswoman for the environmental group said the movement was “much bigger than one person.”

Lori Glover, founder of the Big Bend Defense Coalition, said she was unaware of his past criminal history. She noted that he’d served his time and “made a new start.” She said she felt “very privileged to have worked with Pete Hefflin.”

Gutierrez is being held with no bond for his parole violation. An arrest warrant was also issued in Texas, with a $10,000 bond, on a charge of tampering with government record.


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