Alpine is a small town of about 6,000 people nestled in the foothills of the ruggedly beautiful Davis Mountains of far west Texas. Its altitude has made it an attractive spot for west Texans to escape the searing summer heat. It is also quite remote—the closest city of any size is Odessa, about 150 miles away. El Paso is 220 miles to the west. It is over 370 miles east to San Antonio along IH 10; "the 10", the southernmost interstate highway in the country, which has over 700 miles of close proximity to the Mexican border.
Alpine is the county seat of Brewster county, the largest county in the state, which extends south to the Mexican border and covering an area the size of Connecticut .and Big Bend National Park is within Brewster county between Alpine and the Rio Grande river and the Mexican border.
Formerly populated by those engaged in tourism, oil and gas, ranching and agriculture, the area now has a large population of Government workers brought in by the explosion of illegal immigration and the rise of the drug trade across the border from Mexico. Many of its citizens now work for U.S. Customs, Border Patrol, the U.S. Courts, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Alpine has long been the home of Sul Ross State University, whose whitewashed buildings overlook the main highway into town. Sul Ross has long been known for its rodeo team, but the academics have much improved and the presence of the university has added another layer to the cultural depth of this small desert town.
The geographic location of Alpine has made it a hub of immigration activity. Because of the rise in illegal immigrants making the dangerous trek across the Sonoran desert from Mexico, as well as increased drug smuggling activity, two new federal buildings have been erected along the Ft. Davis highway. One is the new federal courthouse; the other is a grim looking sandstone compound surrounded by a 16 foot fence. This structure houses the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Attorney's office for the Western District of Texas.
The majority of federal cases in Alpine are immigration cases; however, drug smuggling and drug and marijuana possession also make up a large part of the federal criminal docket . Accordingly, there is now a full-time U.S. Magistrate and four assistant U.S. attorneys in Alpine to handle these large dockets.
Despite the distance, I enjoy representing clients in this far corner of the Western District of Texas, and have become quite familiar with this part of west Texas.