Posts Tagged ‘US 59’
It says a lot about a community when their local newspapers don’t want to be accessed by outsiders. Following other East Texas “news” agencies, the Jacksonville Daily Progress and Rusk Cherokeean Herald now require readers to pay and subscribe to their propaganda, in order to stave off outside scrutiny. Only a snippet of their articles will be viewable online to those linking to these papers, based upon the editors’ discretion and pressure from the Rusk, TX courthouse. The fact is small East Texas towns employ law enforcement and their familial informants to illegally tape record phone conversations, bug opponents’ offices, hack emails, and even steal drugs to plant on innocent people. The reporters at the local newspapers are coddled with front row seats to every trial and grand jury, and some even get the chance to help monitor the lay population. Cherokee County papers know to tow the corrupt county line, or be culled from the district attorney’s most favorite list.
Shelby County, TX:
Federal authorities out of Washington D.C. have cracked one of those deposed in the ongoing Tenaha, TX civil rights/”forfeiture scam” law suits. Shelby County Constable Precinct 4 Fred Walker has admitted in a federal affidavit that he and former City Marshal Rod McClure routinely bugged municipal offices as cover for their ongoing drug dealing. (Source: Longview News Journal Feb. 15, 2012) Walker admits in the statements to the FBI that he and McClure were stealing confiscated drugs from evidence lockers and staging fake break-ins at the City Marshal’s office. McClure and company were eventually blackmailed by one of their local drug dealers. Constable Walker and his Houston attorney denies the admissions were made. (Source: Houston Chronicle Feb. 15, 2012)
(Courtesy: KYTX CBS 19 Feb. 16, 2012)
Small town law enforcement agencies have responded to the exposure in Tenaha and have apparently begun to cut off the phone services they are illegally monitoring. The Tyler Paper quickly reports non-existent Verizon phone outages are affecting “911 services” in the 2 most corrupt counties in greater East Texas, Cherokee and Rusk counties. (Source: Tyler Paper Phone Outages Affecting Some East Texas 911 Systems Feb. 16, 2012) The Daily Progress also reports that “Verizon wireless” outages somehow affect local landline phone services; Consolidated Communications, formerly the Lufkin Conroe Telephone Exchange, is the provider of landline (copper) residential phone service in Cherokee County and surrounding areas. Are they too currently dismantling their bugs?
Verizon is a wireless provider and does not offer landline service other than digital Voice over IP (fiber Internet) in areas of East Texas “reporting” outages. Secondly, it has no effect on 911 services provided by DETCOG. (Source: DETCOG Regional 911 Program) Embedded reporters should do a little fact checking when these sheriff departments are the spokesmen for local phone companies. There are no fiber optics for residential service in these small towns. They are however now under Federal scrutiny for the illegal phone drops, the ongoing drug trade and violation of civil rights. Corrupt law enforcement agencies are in direct control of all phone systems in their jurisdictions. Party lines are the method of choice for Cherokee County investigators; the goings on down the road in Tenaha, TX are just a drop in the bucket.
As we stated at the inception of this blog, travelers and businesses should never set foot into corrupt backwoods East Texas. Law enforcement, prosecutors and tenured public officials in this area openly violate Federal law and work hand-in-hand with their family members to rob and steal anything they can get their hands on. Those running for office who aren’t part of the family clique’ will have their personal phone calls, postal mail and email hacked. Those who whistle blow against the corruption will be vilified in the local newspapers covering up the generational highway robbery. Some will be brought before a planted jury and accused of made-up crimes; some will be driven out of town by sexual blackmail and/or harassment. Others wind up dead in the nearby National Forests.
Travelers forfeit their privacy and safety in Cherokee County; they lose their wallets and their cars in neighboring Shelby County.
The Shelby County, TX corruption is a microcosm of what Federal authorities covering East Texas are aware of. Rural phones have been tapped by those holding the purse strings since the day they were installed by Ma Bell, from the payphones at the corner market, to Farmer Brown’s at the end of dirt road. USPS mail is opened with complete impunity by those assigned to do so. Now, even emails on county servers are hacked into as fodder for political rivals. What are people to think of prosecutors, investigators and judges who are not only cognizant of the systemic criminal activity going on in their neck of the Piney Woods, but who actively participate in it? –Who have benefited from it for decades and intend to pass it on to their political successors?
US 59, which runs through Shelby County, is known as a national drug corridor. US Route 69, another major drug trafficking route, runs north from Port Arthur through Angelina and Cherokee counties, to Tyler, TX and the DFW metroplex — all the way to Minnesota. It is monitored by federal agencies and every Tom, Dick and Harry pseudo-cop along the way. The later are not just targeting drug traffickers; they are after innocent people’s belongings.
Shelby County law enforcement is an example of how things operate in East Texas. Newspapers and reporters covering Cherokee County and surrounding areas will continue to do their best to convince their dedicated readers and advertisers the same has not been occurring for decades under their noses. When word begins to leak out about the criminal activity of public officials, these papers bury any reports by backdating and archiving the details, hiding them from the sunlight. They will only print what ‘good Christian folks’ they all are, with no knowledge that their own constables work as drug mules, a la’ Cherokee County’s Randall Thompson –sentenced to 10 years in 2006 for intent to distribute meth. (Source: Tyler Paper Aug. 23, 2006)
Heck, in Cherokee County, the district judges and local newspapers didn’t even know their own bailiff had been indicted in federal court –the same day they removed him from office for not showing up to work…never mentioning on the record Thompson had been busted by federal agents months earlier. (Source: Jacksonville Progress Court Date Set for Constable Removal Trial Jan. 11, 2006)
Shelby County District Attorney Linda Kaye Russell is also under DOJ investigation for allegedly offering bona fide drug runners leniency for forfeiture of their cash on hand to prosecutors. Under this practice, Shelby County collected over $800,000 in less than one year. Innocent motorists were also threatened with money laundering charges if they didn’t turn over their property. Russell pleaded the 5th during an August 2, 2010 deposition in Nacogdoches County according to KTRE. (Source: Shelby County district attorney pleads fifth Aug. 3, 2010) The Tenaha civil rights class action suits still sitting on the Federal dockets are in response to the illegal search and seizure procedures of these county officials. The longer the cases are drawn out, the more revealing they become to those out of the region. You barely get a peep out the local newspapers.
The recent Associated Press article on Shelby County, Texas in its entirety:
Affidavit: Texas constable admits ordering bugging
DANNY ROBBINS, Associated Press
Updated 05:23 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2012
DALLAS (AP) — A small-town Texas constable told the FBI he secretly bugged other officials’ offices after they were accused of illegally forcing motorists to forfeit their cash, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The affidavit, based on interviews conducted by FBI agents and Texas Rangers, quotes Shelby County Constable Fred Walker as saying he authorized the installation of hidden surveillance cameras and digital recorders even though he didn’t have legal authority. It also includes a statement from a witness who claims Walker helped organize a scheme to sell drugs seized from suspects.
It’s just another chapter in a longtime drama in Tenaha, a town of 1,160 near the Louisiana border, where nearly $800,000 in cash seized from motorists stopped for traffic violations along U.S. Highway 59 has led to lawsuits and a federal criminal investigation of the county’s former district attorney and other officials.
Walker, 53, was Tenaha’s city marshal at the time the alleged bugging occurred. He was elected constable in 2010.
In a brief phone interview, Walker said he knew nothing about the affidavit, filed in U.S. District Court in Lufkin on Feb. 6. When asked if he arranged to have offices bugged, he hung up.
Walker’s attorney, Bassey Akpaffiong of Houston, said prosecutors have told him to expect an indictment. Akpaffiong said Walker was never involved in selling drugs and never told the FBI he authorized the installation of secret listening devices.
Malcolm Bales, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, declined to comment.
The search warrant affidavit was filed as part of a federal case against the owner of a computer repair business in Tenaha. The business owner, Roderrette McClure, pleaded guilty Tuesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Authorities found the firearms after obtaining the warrant last August to search for hard drives and other computer devices on McClure’s property.
According to the affidavit, McClure told authorities that Walker had him install surveillance cameras disguised as smoke detectors and hidden voice-activated digital recording equipment in the offices of Tenaha Mayor George Bowers and deputy city marshal Barry Washington. Walker said he wanted to “cover” himself over the traffic stops, most of which were conducted by Washington, McClure said in the affidavit.
Walker acknowledged in an interview the same day that he had authorized the installation of the devices in Washington’s office and at City Hall, the affidavit states.
Washington and Bowers are among the defendants in a class action lawsuit asserting that authorities in Tenaha and Shelby County threatened innocent motorists, most of them black, with money laundering charges if they didn’t forfeit the money they were carrying. Walker has been deposed as part of the suit, initiated in 2008, but isn’t named as a defendant.
The Associated Press reported last October that the forfeitures, directed by District Attorney Lynda Kaye Russell, also allowed motorists who genuinely fit the description of drug runners or money launderers to receive light sentences or escape criminal prosecution altogether. Russell left her post at the end of 2011.
U.S. Highway 59, which runs from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada, is one of the country’s best-known drug-trafficking routes.
FBI agents have interviewed many of the motorists, and a federal grand jury in Tyler also has interviewed witnesses and collected evidence, according to individuals who have been questioned as part of the probe. The investigation is being headed by the Department of Justice‘s civil rights division in Washington.
The search warrant affidavit says the FBI and Texas Rangers began investigating Walker and McClure in August 2010 after Walker reported that 500 pounds of marijuana and other drugs were stolen from his evidence room. Investigators later thought the robbery had been staged, according to the affidavit.
In November 2010, Walker and McClure asked authorities to investigate extortion letters they received in which someone identified as “Jack Frost” sought money to keep quiet about selling drugs from the evidence room, the affidavit says. Investigators located a man who admitted writing the letters, and he said he had been recruited by McClure to sell marijuana and ecstasy, according to the affidavit.
The letter writer told authorities that McClure said he and Walker were stealing marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and hydrocodone from the room and selling it through other individuals, the affidavit says. The document quotes the man as saying McClure and Walker replaced the stolen marijuana with “fire bricks” and that the burglary was staged to cover for the missing drugs.
McClure’s attorney, Lori Mack, did not respond to phone messages.
(Courtesy: Houston Chronicle via Associated Press 2012)
From Bad Cop News feeder:
Lyford, TX on Nov. 27, 2006
BIGGS, LD#509,#3212, ROGUE COP ON VIDEO To:”steve bonzai” ON 11/21/06, 1PM, I WAS SOUTHBOUND ON HWY 59 IN RUSKCOUNTY, TEXAS. I WAS CRUISING ON CRUSE CONTROL AT THESPEED LIMIT. I SAW THE SHERIFF ON THE SIDE OF THE ROADPULL OFF AFTER I PASSED. HE CAUGHT UP TO ME AND PUT ONHIS LIGHTS. I PULLED OVER TO SEE WHAT HE WANTED. HE SAID THE TAIL LIGHT WAS OUT ON MY TRAILER, BUT I HADNOT USED MY BRAKES UNTIL AFTER HE STOPPED ME. IQUESTIONED HIS STATEMENT THAT THE LIGHTS WERE OUT. [IBELIEVE THAT BRAKE LIGHTS ARE NOT NEEDED IN DAYLIGHT,BUT HAD TESTED MY LIGHTS THE DAY BEFORE IN MICHIGAN.]
I MADE HIM STATE AGAIN THAT HE WAS STOPPING ME BECAUSEOF BRAKE LIGHTS ON MY TRAILER.[#1- ILLEGAL STOP.]THENHE WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY I HAD. HE ASKED TOSEARCH MY CAR AND I TOLD HIM HE HAD NO RIGHT TO SEARCHMY CAR. HE FURTHER DETAINED ME SO HIS DOG COULD SNIFFMY CAR. THE DOG GAVE THE CAR A PASS UNTIL HE THREWSOMETHING [HIS GUM?] UNDER THE FRONT OF THE CAR.[#2MANUFACTURING EVIDENCE][HIS WIND-UP SHOULD BE CLEAR ONTHE VIDEO EVEN THOUGH HE WAS HIDING BEHIND MY CAR.]THE DOG WENT FOR IT UNDER THE PASSENGER SIDE FRONTTIRE. HE PUT THE DOG AWAY AND SAID THE DOG ALERTED ONMY TRUNK. HE CLAIMED THAT GAVE HIM THE RIGHT TO SEARCHMY CAR WITHOUT MY CONSENT. HE SEARCHED MY CAR AND BOATVERY CLOSELY, AS SEEN ON THE TAPE. [#3 ILLEGALLYSEARCH.]
HE ASKED ABOUT DRUGS BUT I POINTED OUT DRUGSGO FROM SOUTH TO NORTH. LATER I REALIZED HE WASLOOKING FOR MONEY. HE SHAKES ALL THE DOORS, LOOKS INALL THE NOOKS AND CRANNIES. GOES THROUGH ANTIQUES FROMMY GREAT-GRAND MOTHER, MY CLOTHES, KNAPSACK AND FRUITAND VEGETABLES. I STILL DO NOT KNOW IF HE STOLEANYTHING AS I AM NOT HOME TO UNPACK YET. HE WAS KINDENOUGH TO GIVE ME A WARNING THAT HAS ALL THEINFORMATION ON IT, [#4 FILING A FALSE POLICE REPORT.]AND TOLD ME HAVE A NICE THANKSGIVING. I STOPPED IN THENEXT TOWN AT- LUNDSFORD AUTO SUPPLY AND GARAGE- TOHAVE MY LIGHTS CHECKED. THE MAN BEHIND THE COUNTERCHECKED MY LIGHTS, THEN STEPPED ON THE BRAKES SO ICOULD SEE FOR MYSELF THAT THERE WAS NO PROBLEM WITH MYLIGHTS. THEY JOKED ABOUT MY HAVING MET BARNEY, SO THISMUST HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. I WILL BE IN TOUCH WITHEVERY ATTORNEY IN THE AREA TO SEE HOW MANY PEOPLESLIVES HE HAS MESSED UP WITH HIS ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.THERE WAS ANOTHER MALE IN THE CAR WITH HIM. HE HAD A SHERIFF’S SHIRT ON.
THEY CHECKED ME THROUGH THE SYSTEM SO IT WILL NOT BE HARD TO VERIFY MY STORY. IF THEYDESTROY THE EVIDENCE ON THE TAPE THAT IS A SIGN OFRICO ACTIVITY. THE CAR, BOAT AND TRAILER BELONG TO MY DAD AND HAVE NEVER HAD SO MUCH AS A CIGARETTE INSIDE.THE DOG TOLD HIM THAT. HE STILL WANTED TO SEARCH FORMONEY SO HE MANUFACTURED AN EXCUSE. BEING OUT-OF-STATE HE THINKS JUST NOT BEING FINED IS ENOUGH TO HAVE MEFORGET ABOUT MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. CHECK OUT THEFILM AND SEE HOW MANY LAWS HE BROKE. I WILL BE MORETHAT WILLING TO TESTIFY AT HIS TRIAL. TARGETINGOUT-OF-STATERS, I BET THE MEXICAN CONSUL WILL HAVEREPORTS OF HIS CRIMINAL ACTS. THIS REPORT WILL BE SENTTO EVERY EMAIL I CAN FIND IN RUSK COUNTY, THE DPS,RANGERS, FBI, EVERY ATTORNEY IN EVERY COUNTYSURROUNDING RUSK AND EVERY MEXICAN CONSUL IN THESTATES AND MEXICO AS WELL AS EVERY COUNTRY IN CENTRALAMERICA. I AM WILLING TO TAKE A POLYGRAPH, ANYTIMEANYWHERE. STEVE BANYAI TDL# 02454464.
Open response to Steve on Bad Cop News:
Steve, I can relate to your story you posted. I lived in East TX for 25 years and had to leave because of the systemic corruption coming out of the area. I have had friends go through the same ordeal. Sheriff Biggs, or whoever this guy is, does exactly what most of these small town cops do. There are a handful of decent folks up there, but often wonder how many truly honest ones are left. I would post your dealings with the Rusk Co. boys in other places.
The problem is there is very little initiative for the US attorney’s office, TX Rangers or FBI to reign in the redneck mafia that wear badges. They work together, in co-hoots with each other. The later provided meaningless drug busts, and the former getting Federal grant money to do as they wish.
This only skims the surface of the corruption of East Texas law enforcement. Just last year in 2006, down in Cherokee County, TX a 60 year old veteran chief of police officer was busted by out of county law enforcement for selling meth and drugs off the steps of the Troup, TX city hall.
Read at :
Editor’s footnote: Chief Chester Kennedy was arrested and convicted of evidence tampering. Sgt. Mark Turner was arrested and convicted for taking drugs from the police locker. Other links verify the trafficking of crystal meth in Cherokee County by others. As of March 2009, Kennedy was appealing the theft conviction.
Why does this take place, in broad daylight and under the noses of Federal prosecutors? Some conspiracists say the feds have signed off on them and given them accomodations, so it would make those districts look bad in the eyes of Congress (follow the money). That’s one theory. Here is mine— this stuff happens because these “men” enjoy violating the law everyday and every fashion they see fit.They pull people over going “southbound” even though the city limits of the rat hole town is only on the Northbound and they have no jurisdiction on the southbound lanes. So they catch you going out of town so you are outside the city limits and away from help. They tape record the calls coming from the phone booths at the local Shop-A-Lot, pretending to put a dent in the out of state drug trade; but these lowlifes are actually just getting their jollies illegally eavesdropping on the town’s populace. And they get paid to do it.
They also have no compunction about lying under oath, fabricating evidence and will even murder people for insurance money. In neighboring Cherokee County, just south down the road from Henderson, the former District Attorney named Charles Holcomb is now a sitting Justice in the highest criminal court in TX, in Austin, on the TX Court of Criminal Appeals. He convicted an innocent man back in the 1990s on a murder for hire scheme in Alto, TX. No investigation by the authorities needed after the man Holcomb convicted was freed.
There aren’t many articles dating back to the heyday of the Hwy 59 posse that got their revenue from “drug busts” and basically holding up out of state drivers. They don’t have to prove anything during a trial, the accusation is simple enough for a conviction.
Of course, officials such as Justice Charles Holcomb portray themselves now as a privacy advocate, in Holcomb’s case even ruling against his Republican Chief Justice when it comes to drug seizures. And the remainder East Texas state prosecutors like Cherokee County’s Elmer C. Beckworth, Jr. salivate over the next small town homicide to brand themselves as “victim rights advocates.” Then they top it off by misleading their colleagues in the Texas State Bar and TCDAA about their own personal involvement. Rusk County may be heavy handed in their “war on drugs,” but at least they aren’t selling drugs to undercover federal agents, like Cherokee County’s Constable Precinct 3 Randy Thompson or raping women during traffic stops like Larry Pugh of the Jacksonville, TX police department.
As for Sheriff Biggs of Rusk County, how bad can he be? Don’t get me wrong though, these men are extremely dangerous. As a former East Texan, I am embarrassed to see the beautiful place turn into such a cesspool of drug dealing and corruption. If traveling south, I would take I45 to Huntsville and down to Houston, and totally avoid the backwoods cretins. And make sure you bring a cell phone and log in with a loved one when traveling through the area so they know where you are periodically. And lastly, of course never use a pay phone in these small towns, unless you want Constable Billy Bob Dipshit to intercept it.
Good luck, sir.
name and address withheld on private blog.
Even the Texas Rangers turned their backs on Banyai’s request for an investigation.
Rusk County, county seat Henderson, has had its racially motivated lawsuits and firings a’la Cherokee County in recent years. 2004 news article titled “OUTGOING RUSK COUNTY SHERIFF SUED OVER INVESTIGATOR’S FIRING” illustrates the redneck and racist mentality of East Texas law enforcement. A black District Attorney was called racial epithets by former Rusk County Sheriff after refusing to violate a citizen’s civil rights.
In the posting, Steve Banyai is describing Henderson County Narcotics/K9 officer Kenneth Biggs, who in 2005 actually pulled over a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy and charged him possession of cocaine. Deputy Biggs gets his name in the police misconduct blogs for busting a Harris County deputy for crack and cocaine, then gets his name in the illegal search and seizure records.
As of late, Rusk County has seen its jailers busted with child porn, a deputy commit suicide and the FBI do internal investigations stemming from charges of corruption. Rusk County and the current Sheriff’s Department is attempting to clean house. Hopefully, Cherokee County will be next on the FBI’s and US Attorney’s office for house cleaning.
Footnote: Shelby County, TX constables and prosecutors working the Tenaha area and US 59 are facing federal lawsuits for illegal search and seizure practices. In the Eastern Texas Federal District Court, several class action and civil rights suits, such as Morrow v. City of Tenaha are being heard for the “money shakedown operation” of over 200 motorists. As KTRE reports on July 30, 2008, detained motorists were forced to sign waivers of forfeiture of their property and wallets to avoid being charged with “money laundering.” Shelby County has seized over 3 million dollars from traveling motorists over the last 2 years.
Refer to case: Morrow v. City of Tenaha Deputy City Marshal Barry Washington, et al