Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 5, 2013

BREAKING: 'Safe Street Task Force' members — Jacksonville Police in forefront — discover major drug stash

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A warrant search by members of the Safe Street Task Force — a collaborative group centering on Jacksonville police — led authorities Wednesday to discover and seize nearly four pounds of marijuana, nine grams of methamphetamine, a number of prescription Hydrocodone and a .45 caliber handgun.

The suspects targeted by the search that led to the discovery and seizure of the drugs and contraband  were not immediately apprehended during this structure search off FM 747 N. But the multi-agency authorities involved — who on Thursday were busy processing fingerprints and DNA  — expect warrants, apprehensions and subsequent indictments to result, Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel confirmed.

The Task Force collaborative law enforcement effort was established in November 2011. It includes the FBI, the Jacksonville Police Department, and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department and focuses on identifying, targeting, disrupting and dismantling violent street gangs and drug trafficking operations.

According to a spokesman, the Task Force provides funding for the purchase of drug evidence and finances the payment of informants, the purchase of equipment, and overtime costs by local law enforcement members working on task force cases.

To date the task force has achieved strong results, the spokesman said, including:

• Federal Indictments — 40. (Of the 40 defendants, approximately 30 had pleaded guilty as of Thursday.)

• Narcotics Seized: Over 3,000 grams of methamphetamine, over 200 grams of cocaine-crack.

• Firearms Seized: Over 50 firearms including numerous assault rifles and stolen firearms.  

• US Currency Seized: Over $20,000.

• Major arrests: An armed robbery crew consisting of gang members responsible for approximately a dozen armed robberies in Jacksonville and Cherokee County — including the shooting of a business owner during an armed robbery.

• Strong Law Enforcement Assets: Most of the seized money is given to the Jacksonville Police Department and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department.    

• Strong Local Results: Nearly all defendants are from Jacksonville or Cherokee County as a result of these investigations. A few were arrested in Smith County.

In addition to its benefits to law enforcement officers, the task force also provides a valuable avenue for prosecution of offenders, the spokesman said.

The task force currently is comprised of one FBI agent, one Jacksonville Police detective and one Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office detective.  The group relies heavily on the Jacksonville PD and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for additional manpower during arrests, search warrants, and high risk traffic stops, according to the spokesman.

Chief Daniel said Thursday he is very satisfied with the progress the task force has had with its focus of ridding Cherokee County of drugs and drug dealers and of Cherokee County District Attorney Rachel Patton's admirable aggressiveness toward incarcerating drug dealers. Daniel cited in particular one recent case that resulted in an 85-year-sentence facilitated by the DA's office.

“At some point even the most unintelligent of these drug dealers will realize that this will be a never-ending process for law enforcement officers in this county and leave the county,” the chief said. “Either that, or we will see that they receive long prison terms and remove them from Cherokee County.”