Approximately Jan. 18, 1915, Basilio Ramos arrived in McAllen and is said to have contacted Dr. Andres Villarreal and presented him with a copy of the Plan of San Diego in the hopes of enlisting his help. The good doctor, instead, turned him in to the law.
Dr. Villarreal called his friend Deodoro Guerra, a merchant and sometimes law enforcement officer, and informed him of Ramos’ activities. Guerra in turn contacted Hidalgo County Sheriff A. Y. Baker (at left). Ramos was supposed to meet the doctor at 11 p.m. that evening at the Rio Grande Hotel. Sheriff Baker and Guerra waited with him but Ramos did not show.
The following day, Jan. 19, Guerra arrested Ramos and called Sheriff Baker who came to pick him up and took him to jail in Edinburg. Guerra had taken 11 documents from Ramos, including the Plan of San Diego, and put them in his safe at his mercantile store. (As a parenthetical note, there have been claims that Deputy Tom Mayfield arrested Ramos, but Mayfield’s name does not appear in any of the court documents I have examined.)
Baker told Federal officials that Ramos had said that General Nefarrate at Matamoros was “friendly to his move.” Ramos disputed this, saying he had said he “believed” that the general “was in accord with the movement not [that]…he was.”
In any case, Baker held Ramos in the county lockup until Jan. 26 when Deputy U.S. Marshall T. P. Bishop picked him up. Bishop also picked up the 11 documents from Guerra’s safe and took Ramos to Brownsville.
In Brownsville a tag team of immigrant officers—one who could read and write Spanish but did not speak it so well and the other who claimed to speak and understand Spanish but could not read or write it so well—served as translators. Immigration inspector J.R. Harold translated the documents and served as stenographer. “I speak it (Spanish) fairly well, but I read and write it much better than I speak it,” Harold said. It is to this “eminent linguist” that we owe the translation of the Plan of San Diego.
Inspector S. B. Hopkins served as translator for Ramos’ questioning. With “more or less” two years experience, Hopkins said he could read and write Spanish “to an extent…but not as well” as he spoke it.
For his part Ramos was very reticent to offer information. “I have nothing to say, excepting the documents I had in my possession were made and executed in Monterrey, Mexico,” Ramos said. “And, further, I have to say with regard to the complaint against me is what I have previously stated, on the 28th of January, 1915, in a statement to E. P. Reynolds, Inspector in Charge of the Immigration Service at Brownsville, Texas.” Frankly, the language in this last statement sounds a little official, more like the person taking the interrogation.