Sunday, February 14, 2010





  Ton of pot found in wrecked van
Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–A suspect fleeing from a traffic stop crashed, and the officer discovered why the driver fled on foot – there was a ton of pot in the van.
Kaufman County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Charles Sexton initiated a traffic stop for a minor infraction on Farm-to-Market 2757, near County Road 741 in Crandall, Jan. 24, when a chase began.
TonOfPot.jpg (152366 bytes)Courtesy Photo/Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office
Kaufman County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Charles Sexton sits with his drug-detecting dog and 2,000 pounds of marijuana seized from a wrecked Ford Econoline van Jan. 24.

The suspect, driving a white Ford Econoline van, lost control of the vehicle and crashed.
When Sexton reached the vehicle, he found the van still running, still in drive, but no occupants.
Sexton also discovered what was left behind – 2,000 pounds of marijuana, neatly bailed in black plastic bags, wrapped with tape.
The street value of the marijuana was estimated at more than $2 million, according to a release issued Feb. 10 by Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Pat Laney.
The case remains under investigation, Laney added.

Churches told to take steps
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–In the wake of the ninth and 10th church fires in Northeast Texas, local law enforcement are enlisting cooperation from area church leaders.
The cause of two fires remains undetermined, but the latest fires, at Dover Baptist Church and nearby Clear Springs Missionary Baptist in Smith County Feb. 8, have been determined to be arson.
That makes nine churches intentionally burned down in the Athens-Tyler area.
Another church fire in Central Texas was also deliberately set, but does not seem to be tied to the East Texas fires.
No one has been reported injured. Federal agents suspect a serial arsonist or group of arsonists in the East Texas fires.
Whoever is torching these churches are having to scope them out first, Mabank police chief Kyle McAfee told local church leaders during a safety meeting Wednesday.
They may even attend a Wednesday night or Sunday night service.
“Make sure greeters get visitors to fill out a visitor’s card. Get a copy of it to us, so we can build a (statewide) data base,” he said.
Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chief Clay Alexander, based in Tyler, said though the arsonists have evaded capture for more than a month, “we’re going to find who did this.”
The Bureau has committed some 60 to 70 agents and many long hours to these fires, McAfee reported.
McAfee pointed out a map of the church fires, categorized as arson since the beginning of the year: three in Henderson County, one in Van Zandt (with two other church fires from undetermined causes) and five in Smith County.
There is no pattern to the attacks, he said. They occur at any time of day or night and are not particular to any one denomination, he said.
It is known that the fires are started with just what is on hand at the churches. Those starting the fires do not seem to bring any accelerant, such as kerosine, with them.
Also known is that audible alarms are capable of staving off a potential attack, as there are easier churches without alarm systems, he said.
Law enforcement officers have composite sketches of three persons of interest, who may have been seen at one or more fires, McAfee said. These sketches are not being released to the public at this time.
“There hasn’t been much to go on – that’s why we need to get everyone involved,” McAfee said.
“If you see any suspicious activity, a parked car where there should be none, someone visiting the church at odd hours, or even a footprint under a window,” call 9-1-1, he said, “and don’t touch anything.”
“If your church should fall victim to one of these fires, stay away from the building. It just makes it harder for investigators to collect any meaningful evidence,” he warned.
In addition to getting church leaders involved in taking steps to protect their properties by installing audible alarm systems or security cameras and being more vigilant about filling out visitors cards and turning these into the police, the number of state troopers cruising the area has been increased.
“You’ve probably noticed a few more state troopers on the road recently. Hundreds of police officers are involved in this,” he said.
“If you see someone suspicious, don’t confront him. Just leave. We don’t know if they are armed or not. Just call 9-1-1,” he added.
McAfee also asked each church to fill out an informational sheet about their property and several contacts.
“If you are stepping up your own security measures, be sure to let us know what they are,” he said.
McAfee distributed a phone list of area law enforcement and the Texas Rangers church fire hotline, (903) 675-0061, 62.
He also suggested those wanted to keep updated on important emergency information to sign up for a free text with or go to to sign up.



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