US Marshals, Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force capture more than 800 fugitives in East Texas during 2020

Authorities recover six missing children

The U.S. Marshals Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force (JETFTF) brought 813 felony fugitives to justice during 2020, bringing the arrest total to 20,305 since its inception back in 2004.

These arrests resulted in 1,204 felony warrants being cleared in 2020, adding to the total of 26,774 warrants closed since the JETFTF was formed. Many of the fugitives the JETFTF apprehends are wanted on more than one state and/or federal arrest warrant.

Included in the 2020 arrests are 47 homicide warrants, 70 armed or aggravated robberies, 182 sex crimes, 383 narcotics, and 4 kidnappings that JETFTF spearheaded investigative efforts on.

While serving these warrants, JETFTF members seized 66 illegally possessed firearms, over $600,000.00 and 459kg of various illegal narcotics. Sex offender investigators assigned to the JETFTF also contributed to local agencies involved in recovering six missing children in 2020.

In keeping with the critical partnerships formed with local law enforcement agencies, the JETFTF has assisted in organizing sex offender compliance checks in counties and cities throughout East Texas. These compliance checks help local agencies ensure that registered sex offenders residing within their respective jurisdictions are following all applicable state laws governing sex offender registration requirements. The members of the JETFTF provide valuable expertise in organizing these operations and a tremendous amount of manpower, acting as a force-multiplier for agencies that are often tasked with several other missions.

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office was included in the list of agencies that participated in some of these arrests, prompting the sheriff’s office to issue its own statement.

“There are many facets of law enforcement of which the public is often unaware that functions on a day and night basis to help keep our streets free of the criminal elements that plague our communities on a 24/7 basis. One such organization is the U.S. Marshals Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force of which the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, along with many other east Texas law enforcement agencies, has been a part of for many years. The recent news release of that sponsoring agency shows just how many crimes, criminals, recovered property, illegal drugs and other have fallen under the watchful eye of this elite group of agencies,” the statement reads.

Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader recently said his organization felt privileged to have had former Deputy Zack Harkness as a working member of this Task Force and to represent Liberty County in many of these solved cases handled by this group effort. Harkness is now the newly elected Constable of Pct. 6 in Liberty County

“The public can rest assured that the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office will continue to be a major player within this organization and continue working to make the new year an even more productive year than before. This behind-the-scene and perhaps lesser known organization of law enforcement organizations composing this Task Force will continue quietly going along getting many violent offenders off our streets, recovering stolen property and removing illegal drugs from our various communities,” the LCSO statement concludes.

The Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force is comprised of investigators from the following agencies: Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Beaumont Police Department, Bowie County District Attorney’s Office, Carrollton Police Department, Center Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Collin County District attorney’s office, Collin County Sheriff’s Office, Denton County Sheriff’s Office, Denton Police Department, Flower Mound Police Department, Grayson County District attorney’s Office, Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Harrison County Fire Marshal office, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson Police Department, Houston County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Lamar County District Attorney’s Office, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Longview Police Department, Lufkin Police Department, Marshall Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office, Orange county Sheriff’s Office, Palestine Police Department, Panola County Sheriff’s Office, Pittsburg Police Department, Plano Police Department, Port Arthur Police Department, Rusk County Sheriff’s Office, San Augustine County Constable’s Office, San Augustine County Sheriff’s Office, Silsbee Police Department, Smith County Adult Probation Office, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of the Inspector General, Texas Department of Public Safety, Trinity County District Attorney’s Office, Tyler Police Department, Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, Winnsboro Police Department.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

1 COMMENT

  1. There is another side to this story that hopefully the media will some day examine.

    Because of the residency and proximity laws throughout this country, many registrants are unable to find a place to live as they are no longer able to live with their families after release from prison if the family home is too close to a school or other place where children can congregate.

    In Florida, there are 160 counties and municipalities that have residency restrictions over the state’s restriction of 1,000 feet, with many being 2,000 to 2,500 feet, making many registrants become homeless. But the registrants only have to be outside the residency-restricted area from 10pm to 6am — when children are not at schools, daycares, etc., but at home with their parents. Check out the homeless situation in the Miami-Dade area of Florida caused by these laws. Some of these registrants have someone drive them at night to an area where they are legally allowed to sleep in a tent and then are picked up at 6am to return to their home during the daytime that lies within the restricted 2500 feet. CNN made a documentary several years ago on the Miami/Dade situation.

    Some of these registrants in East Texas have probably been forced into hiding so that they can live with a friend who lives within a residency-restricted area; otherwise, they would be homeless. Now society has no idea where they are located because they have been forced into hiding to avoid becoming homeless. If the thousands of dollars of taxpayer money had been spent instead on research-based best practices to help these individuals find a place to live, society would be better off at a lower cost.

    Additionally, some on the registry are homeless making it difficult for them to register.

    According to the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB), this country spends anywhere from 10 to 40 billion dollars per year to maintain and monitor the registry — a registry that research has shown contains people, when taken collectively, that have a low re-offense rate (committing another sex crime) after being caught and serving time in prison. Check out their video at casomb.org.

    All research shows that for any released inmate to rehabilitate back into society successfully, they need a place to live, a job, and family/community support and mentorship. Their rehabilitation is important for the safety of society. The registry and its accompanying statutes/ordinances can make that process very difficult at best.

    For those found non-compliant, there need to be consequences, but sending them back to prison for a technical violation is far too costly to taxpayers, with no benefit coming from it. Instead, have them pick up the litter on our highways or serve community hours in some way to help out society and not cost taxpayers millions of dollars to house these registrants in prisons.

    Instead of throwing so much money at fruitless projects as this one in East Texas, we need to start spending our money on research-based policies that actually work and cost far less money: education, awareness, prevention, restorative policies, and more victims’ services. Preventive programs should be offered in schools, colleges, workplaces, and other public venues to stop the cycle of abuse, raise awareness of the consequences, identify support resources, and ultimately restore families.

    It is also important to note that research shows that OVER 90% of victims know their perpetrator. The “stranger danger” is a myth. Additionally, research has shown that 90% of FUTURE sex crimes will be people NOT on the registry. All research, including with the U. S. Department of Justice, is showing a relatively low re-offense rate (committing another sex crime) when compared to other crimes, after being caught and serving time in prison. Over a lifetime, according to Karl Hanson, numerous studies are showing a re-offense rate (committing another sex offense) of anywhere from 10% – 30% for a lifetime, with many registrants having their one-time-only sex offense being 20 to 30 years ago, if not longer.

    In Florida, failing to register (even though no new crime has been committed) can land you in state prison for up to 5 years; federal prison is up to 10 years. This is a huge cost to taxpayers for the hundreds of thousands of registrants in this country who have a one-time-only sex offense.

    What would be more cost effective for communities is to use empirically derived risk assessments to focus only on the registrants who are truly high risk. Most on the registry did not rape anyone. Some are on the registry for public urination, as a juvenile sending an inappropriate picture to another juvenile through a text, being 21 and having consensual sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend whom they marry upon release from prison, people with autism or dementia at the time of the offense, children as young as 10 years old, and the list goes on and on.

    Law enforcement likes to pat themselves on the back for rounding up these people for things that would not be a crime for the rest of us. How is this making our children and society safer, when all other released inmates (murderers, people guilty of domestic violence, gang leaders, drug dealers, armed robbers, etc.) can live adjacent to schools and not have to register?

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