It’s 6:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 12.
While most people are busy getting their children off to school and heading to work, or settling down with a second cup of coffee, members of the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, part of the U.S. Marshal’s Office-Beaumont Division, are suiting up to look for parole violators.
On this particular Friday, they are in Cleveland planning to venture into Rye, Tarkington, Hardin and Daisetta by day’s end. Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Zack Harkness, a member of the Task Force, acts as a liaison and guide as they try to find addresses that, even in 2018, aren’t mapped by Google.
Harkness, Detective Kasey Nonette with Beaumont PD and Officer James Croak from Port Arthur PD, along with U.S. marshals Jim Fulcher, Chris Christian and Seth Rafter, and Jeff Coulter with the Texas Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General are quickly briefed about the cases Liberty County hopes to clear and the local suspects being sought by Nonette and Croak for crimes in their cities.
Before 7:30 a.m., they set out for the first address – a property on CR 3180 in Cleveland – where they make no arrest but find leads to follow. By 8:30 a.m., the search has moved on to another Cleveland address where they make the arrest of Kenneth Earl McGlothlin, wanted for a parole violation for a stolen vehicle, larceny, burglary and possession of a dangerous drug.
While sheriff’s deputies transport McGlothlin to the county jail in Liberty, the Task Force moves on to the next suspect on the list. At the suspect’s last known address, they learn he has removed his court-ordered ankle monitor before fleeing the area.
“We’ll catch him later,” Fulcher said. “You can hide, but we will find you eventually.”
When the next hunt also produces no results, the Task Force moves on to Rye, where they hope to capture two suspects. When that plan doesn’t pan out, they head south to Hardin, where they arrest Crystal Jordan at a home on CR 2365. According to Harkness, Jordan is wanted for a parole violation for burglary and resisting arrest.
Later in the day, they learn that their first suspect of the day, Josh Zomant, has been arrested by state troopers on US 59. Zomant’s parole warrant is for evading arrest with a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance, Harkness said.
Nine hours after starting in Cleveland, the Task Force members call it a day. While they didn’t come close to capturing all the suspects on their list, three parole violators in custody means three less on the streets.
When asked why inter-agency involvement is crucial to the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, Fulcher said, “If it wasn’t for the help of the other agencies, I don’t think we could function. They know the local players. We augment them and they augment us.”
Like most law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Marshal’s Office operates lean with only 3,000 marshals serving all of the United States. In addition to holding all federal warrants, the marshals are tasked with many other duties. The Beaumont Division is responsible for moving prisoners and protecting the Port of Beaumont, Fulcher said.
The Beaumont Division has one marshal, Chris Christian, who has taken on all sex offender and missing children cases. Christian is tasked with ensuring that sex offenders in the Beaumont Division’s 12-county area stay in compliance with sex offender registration. He also works on human trafficking cases that involve children.
“There are 466,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. Those are just the ones we know about. There are a total of 49 in Liberty County,” Christian said. “As for the ones who cross illegally into the United States, there is no way of knowing how many there are.”
Last year, the U.S. Marshal’s Office arrested 12,859 sex offenders for violating the terms of their release. Marshals also were responsible for the arrests of 84,048 fugitives and the clearance of 101,167 warrants – 71,836 state and local, and 29, 331 federal.
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org