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Attention paid to Fiona Apple's arrest, 'Messed up,' says Hudspeth Sheriff's Office spokesman

County employee behind headline-grabbing press release speaks to ABC-7

Sierra Blanca: celebrity checkpoint?

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas - If you've driven through Texas on I-10 you've likely stopped at the checkpoint where four celebrities have been busted for narcotic possession in a two-year period. 

"You would think after a few celebrities get busted here the word would get out before you go there they might want to throw the dope out the window, but for some reason they don't," said Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office spokesman Rusty Flemming.

Willie Nelson, "Social Network" star Armie Hammer, Snoop Dogg, and most recently, Fiona Apple have been stopped at Sierra Blanca and transported to the Hudspeth County Jail after being arrested on drug charges.

Apple was allegedly caught at the Border Patrol checkpoint with marijuana and hash Sept. 19. Two days later she spoke to her audience during a show in Houston about her time inside the jail. She told them four of Hudspeth County's officers committed acts that were "probably illegal."

"(Apple) started this," said Flemming. "She threw the gauntlet down and all I did was simply answer her."

On Monday,  Flemming shot back with a two-pronged response that was part press release and part personal note. Flemming signed off with the message, "Shut up and sing."

"It was really a nice way of saying, put up or shut up. If you have a legitimate complaint please, by all means, report it. Don't make veiled threats," said Flemming, who still stands behind both his official and personal statements.

"Miss Apple gave me the microphone to use," Flemming admitted. He hopes the star power might help to shine a light on drug trafficking in the region.

"The young people and the juveniles that are being forced into carrying loads of marijuana, the drug cartels, that's what the people buying the baggies don't see," said Hudspeth County Chief Deputy Mike Doyal as he showed ABC-7 the evidence room where Apple's small amount of hash and marijuana is kept.

Doyal said the singer's drugs are dwarfed in comparison with hundred pounds of narcotics that surrounds them. "It's not the baggy of marijuana we're fighting against, it's the organized crime behind it."

"When one little pop star or one celebrity gets arrested my office gets flooded with phone calls for a press release. That's pretty messed up," Flemming said.

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