Weatherford Democrat

August 28, 2013

Feds execute search warrant at Teskey's

Company says investigation centers on marking of imported items law


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



Federal law enforcement officials executed a federal search warrant at Teskey’s Saddle Shop in Weatherford Wednesday.

Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations closed the Weatherford location Wednesday morning, locking the gates in front of the business and turning away customers.

ICE was “currently conducting an operation in support of a criminal investigation,” spokesman Carl Rusnok said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Due to the ongoing operation and investigation, no further details can be released at this time.”

“The investigation is being done by customs agents, which are a part of Homeland Security,” Teskey’s posted to their Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon. “They are investigating a violation of the law Marking of Imported Articles 19 USC 1304. There are no other violations.”

The company tried to dispel social media rumors about the nature of agents’ presence and temporary closure of the store while they investigated.

“It’s unfortunate to hear about the rumors of drugs and tax evasion which are absolutely untrue. We have been an upstanding business and upstanding people in our community since the day we opened our doors. We appreciate all of our friends & their support with spreading the truth and not the rumors.”

Company officials Wednesday declined to return calls from the Weatherford Democrat to discuss the matter.

Don Paul Payton, the Weatherford store manager, said in online Facebook comments that the search had nothing to do with guns, drugs or “anything like that.”

“It is the company behind the store they are investigating,” Payton said on Twitter. “I know. I work there.”

The Weatherford store is located at 3001 West Interstate 20, near Old Dennis Road, and sells saddles, tack, western wear and other equine-related goods. A second store, Teskey’s Uptown, is located in Fort Worth.

Operations were ongoing at both Teskey’s locations, ICE reported Wednesday.

Authorities said they might return later in the day Wednesday after the search warrant was executed to talk with the store owners. However, the Weatherford store was expected to reopen at 8 a.m. today.

Payton said the Fort Worth location was open for business as usual Wednesday.

Information on what agents were looking for and why they were searching the business is expected to be released by the federal court at a later date.