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Texas pipeline protest leader revealed to be criminal with disturbing past

Protesters approach construction crews as they attempt to build an oil pipeline. - GettyImages

A leader of the Trans-Pecos pipeline protest in West Texas has been revealed to be a criminal with an excessively long and very disturbing rap sheet, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Sierra Club affiliate Peter Hefflin has been leading a protest in Presido County Texas against the Trans-Pecos pipeline. Hefflin has helped establish the protest camp by which activists have been attempting to stop the pipeline's construction.

However, Presido County Sheriff's Deputy Angel Velasquez had gotten a tip off about Hefflin's true identity. As Hefflin waited for his wife — a fellow protester — to be released from jail, Hefflin was asked to show his ID. He presented Velasquez with a social security card that later came back as fake.

That Sunday, Velasquez, accompanied by several other deputies and Sheriff Danny Dominguez, went to arrest Hefflin. Protesters surrounded Hefflin in an attempt to protect him, and reportedly jabbed their fingers at Velasquez, demanding to see a warrant. Undetered, however, Velasquez loaded Hefflin into the truck and left.

"They bark like little Chihuahua dogs," said Dominguez. "But they don't got no bite."

After fingerprinting Hefflin, it was revealed that they actually had a man by the name of Pedro Rabago Gutierrez, a wanted criminal in California with major convictions.

Gutierrez, 56, has a long criminal history, according to the California Department of Corrections. In 1984, he was sentenced to nine years for forcible rape, seven years for forcible oral sex and three years for possession of a controlled substance with an intent to sell, the California Department of Corrections said. He served the sentences concurrently and got out of prison about six years later, released on parole.

Between 1990 and 1997, he was reimprisoned at least five times for parole violations, according to corrections records, and in 1998, was convicted of having sex with a minor under 18. He went back to jail, but gained parole again in April of 2002. The California Department of Corrections never heard from him again.

Gutierrez is being held at Presido County Jail, where he is set to be returned to California.

While his fellow protesters are shocked, they say this will not deter them from their continued efforts to block the pipeline. Lori Glover, co-founder of the anti-pipeline protest group Defend Big Bend, said that Gutierrez's treatment by the law has been "cruel and vengeful."

"He served his time, made a new start," Glover said. "I was unaware of any of this past history. Despite that, I feel very privileged to have worked with Pete Hefflin."

Lately, pipeline protests have gotten a very bad rap after the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters had revealed to have destroyed acres of sensitive wildlife habitat to set up their camp where they left mountains of trash, toxic to the environment they said they were protecting. Protesters had also abandoned pets at the camp after their departure, leaving them to sickness and frostbite.

One last thing…
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