Thursday, January 21, 2010






  DEU makes biggest cocaine bust ever
Three pounds found during traffic stop;
DEU investigators also bust working meth lab

Monitor Staff Reports

ATHENS–In what was a really good day for law enforcement, Henderson County Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) investigators recorded what is believed to be the largest cocaine bust in county history and uncovered a working drug lab Jan. 13.
A traffic stop and vehicle search on State Highway 31 in Athens uncovered approximately three pounds of cocaine, believed to be the largest known cocaine seizure from a vehicle in Henderson County history, county sheriff Ray Nutt reported in a prepared press release Jan. 14.
DEU investigators Ronny Halbert, David Faught, Darrell Waller and deputy Billy Jack Valentine conducted a traffic stop on a 2005 Dodge Durango driven by Rafael Nunez, 20.
Nunez and a passenger, Anaceleto Soto-Soto, 26, were reportedly en route from Austin to Tyler at the time, Nutt said.
Both Nunez and Soto-Soto were arrested on charges of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, more than 400 grams.
While a $250,000 bond was placed on the drug charge, both Nunez and Soto-Soto are being held without bond under federal immigration detainers, Nutt reported.
That same day, Valentine drove to a residence on Farm-to-Market 1616 to serve a warrant, and observed items on the property consistent with manufacturing methamphetamine, Nutt said.
Halbert, Faught and Waller joined Valentine at the residence and unsuccessfully attempted to contact the persons inside.
Investigators obtained a search warrant from Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace Milton Adams and initiated a search, discovering Jerry Wayne Owens, 29, inside the residence.
A working methamphetamine lab was also found at the residence, Nutt reported.
Owens was arrested for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, more than 200 grams and less than 400 grams. Owens also had several outstanding warrants, Nutt reported.
Owens is being held without bond on a motion to revoke community supervision probation (burglary of a building) and two capias pro fine warrants (open container, no insurance).
Owens had a $150,000 bond set on the drug charge, $1,000 on a release of surety warrant (theft more than $50, less than $500), $5,000 on a bond forfeiture warrant (theft more than $50, less than $500), $500,000 on a theft of surety warrant (theft more than $50, less than $500) and a $5,000 bond on an affidavit to surrender principal (credit/debit card abuse).

Fatal crash claims woman’s life
By Julie Vaughan
Monitor Staff Writer

CHINA GROVE—A Canton woman died Jan. 14, after the vehicle she was driving was struck by a minivan at the intersection of State Highway 19 and Farm-to-Market 1256, near the China Grove Community in Van Zandt County.
The minvan’s driver was from Eustace.
Lydia Vasquez Martinez, 70, was fatally injured when her 2003 Buick Century, southbound on SH 19, was struck by the minivan, which continued through a stop sign on FM 1256.
Sixty-five-year-old Eustace resident Michael Bert Morris was driving a 2004 Honda Odyssey when it struck Martinez’ car.
“Mr. Morris was at 1256 and 19 and he failed to yield the right-of-way at the stop sign and pulled out onto 19,” Department of Public Safety Trooper Odie Phillips said.
“Ms. Martinez applied her brakes and took evasive action to the left and collided with Mr. Morris’s left passenger side of his vehicle,” Phillips explained. “She (Martinez) spun and came to rest northbound. He slid and came to rest facing southbound in the northbound lane.”
Both were flown by emergency helicopters to different hospitals.
Morris was flown to Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler in stable condition. Phillips said it was known that Morris’s injuries included a broken hip.
Martinez was flown by medical helicopter to East Texas Medical Center in Athens, where she later died.
Phillips said neither person had passengers and both were wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Phillips, along with DPS Trooper Brady Lunceford and DPS Cpl. Kaleb Bullock, are investigating the crash.
South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene with assistance from the Canton Fire Department.

Rapist gets 20 years
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A Malakoff man was sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with a December, 2008, sexual assault at a Malakoff apartment complex.
Vincent Laadrain Dawson, 30, also pled guilty to an assault on a public servant charge, stemming from a June 15, 2009, assault on a jailer who was escorting Dawson back to his cell. He received a 10-year prison sentence for the assault.
Dawson entered a guilty plea before 392nd District Court Judge Carter Tarrance Jan. 13, as part of a plea bargain. Dawson’s prison sentences will run concurrently as a part of the plea bargain.
Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee said he was pleased with the sentence and thanked investigators involved in the case.
“This was a case that boiled down to the victim’s statement and the DNA collected from the defendant,” McKee said. “The investigators and the DNA lab technicians from the Department of Public Safety did a great job in helping us prepare the case for prosecution. I’m glad he is off our streets.”

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