Law enforcement work is never over, and that was evident during a recent series of arrests made by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office.
Starting in February and continuing through last Friday, Aug. 31, Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested “roughly” 20 individuals and served 12 search warrants in connection with interconnected burglary and narcotics arrests, according to Sheriff Matt Coates. Most of the suspects are listed as Erath County residents.
“There are going to be at least three rings that are all connected, in some way or form,” Coates said Thursday. “It was a trickle-down effort. We found a lot of property that was sent to a central location, and property ended up at three separate locations, either sold or scrapped.”
Sergeant Ben Moore noted that most of the suspects were previously known to law enforcement from other cases, and added, “all of the these thefts revolve around drugs.”
“There were no surprises,” Coates stated.
“It started with a state jail felony theft with one guy, and now it’s grown to this,” Moore said. “We added up the property seized or returned to the victims right at $200,000 — and we’re still recovering more.”
There were 27 arrest warrants issued in all, although some suspects were named on more than one.
“Putting this many folks in jail put a major dent in the criminal underground, but by no means does it completely wipe the slate clean,” Coates said.
The charges range up to first-degree felony drug offenses, while burglary of a habitation offenses are second-degree felonies. The drug offenses included “all levels of felony drugs” but most of it involved methamphetamine, Moore said.
The property stolen included cars, trailers and riding lawn mowers. As many as 20 guns were seized from suspects who were already felons — who are not legally allowed to possess firearms.
Some of the felony charges are for organized criminal activity, Coates said, and other charges may be pending for some of the suspects.
Coates said local investigators worked closely with officials from Comanche County, Hamilton County and Palo Pinto County in particular, along with the Stephenville and Dublin police departments.
“It’s a great feeling,” Coates said, referring to the case winding down. “I just can’t give enough credit to these guys. We worked real close with the District Attorney’s (Alan Nash) office as well. We have to all be on the same page.”
Coates said the only credit he would give himself is just in “getting out of the way and turning it over to these guys (investigators) to do their job. I think they did an outstanding job. The guys worked day and night, weekends and it seemed like, ‘why even go home.’”
Moore also gave credit to members of the public who contributed helpful information.
“Even the smallest of tips led to arrests,” Moore said. “As long as the public continues to help, we’ll continue to file cases and (continue) putting people in jail.”