At least three Bedford County commissioners are concerned about what they say are alleged instances of drug deals, prostitution, gambling, and human trafficking at a local venue for Mexican rodeos and horse races.
One of the commissioners wrote a letter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement describing their concerns about what is known as the Rancho La Herradura in Bell Buckle.
This commissioner has asked that The Tennessee Star not identify him, at least not at this time.
“According to witnesses, neighbors and constituents, the said rodeo consisted of typical events consistent with a rodeo with the exception, according to sources, of gambling, drug sales, drug use, underage girls and weapons,” the commissioner wrote.
“Other sources have told me the underage girls are part of prostitution and/or human trafficking operation which is prevalent both in Bedford County and neighboring Rutherford County.”
No one at Rancho La Herradura returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Tuesday.
The commissioner went on to say an Omar Edgar Torres-Rangel, possibly known as Edgar R. Torres, attended a rodeo late last month.
“In an intoxicated state, Mr. Torres drove his vehicle north bound in the southbound lane of State Highway 231 where a head-on collision killed a Bedford County resident Keri King, age 29,” the commissioner wrote.
“Criminal charges are pending against Torres, who is recovering in the hospital.”
According to The Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Torres-Rangel was on the wrong side of a divided highway and was previously drinking.”
“King’s car was knocked into a vehicle driven by Abigail Madeo, 23, of Shelbyville, who was also southbound in the other lane. Madeo was injured,” the paper reported.
“The busy highway was blocked for approximately an hour due to the crash.”
“I am certain there will be another casualty with the rodeo being a direct corollary (to) such actions,” the commissioner told ICE agents.
In the letter, the commissioner also referenced authorities raiding a cock fight in August and arresting seven people. More than 100 people attended the cock fight, the commissioner said.
“Weapons, drugs and gambling were present,” the commissioner wrote.
According to the Times-Gazette’s account of the incident, law enforcement officials discovered hundreds of game birds on the property.
The commissioner also referenced the local Tyson Food Products, which the commissioner said employs numerous low-pay level employees.
“The majority of employees live in the abundance of Section 8 housing units located in Shelbyville. The crime reports indicate a disproportionate number of 911 calls originate from those areas,” the commissioner told ICE.
“Reliable sources tell me the units are used by illegals from which drug activity, crime, and weapons are openly displayed.”
No one at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Tuesday.
In the letter to ICE the commissioner went on to say several commissioners are “fed up with the lack of local enforcement of the laws and statutes.”
“We are willing to openly request your help,” the commissioner wrote.
“It is a pathetic excuse for me to fail to act and perform my duty as an elected official until an innocent victim has to die.”
In an emailed statement, ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox said his agency will not comment on the existence or absence of any potential investigation — at least until if and when criminal charges get filed.
“While a person may choose to disclose they’ve contacted this agency to provide information, we are not able to discuss what, if any, investigative activity may or may not be underway as a result of any information in the possession of this agency,” Cox said.
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