A former Federal Officer turned Private Investigator claims East Texas officials have generationally benefited from the ongoing narcotics trade by being involved in it at every level. Not only are federal monies under the Byrne grants siphoned off by small-town law enforcement agencies, but local officials use the Tulia Laws to grab up foreclosed property of supposed drug dealers. The PI who we will refer to as the “Captain” points out a former District Judge who passed away about a year ago. Bascom Bentley III owned over 600 acres in Anderson County; land he apparently did not inherit but accumulated over the years to sell off. Tulia law injustices are common and even more common are Byrne grant monies being swindled to family members and political allies. Those who publicly complain about the corruption have been met with law suits, police raids, and death. Thus making them, in the eyes of local officials, the ideal candidate for property foreclosure.
In Bentley vs. Bunton- Texas, in 1996 Judge Bascom Bentley successfully filed a defamation suit against a Palestine talk show host who called the judge “corrupt” among other things on air. If that were the case then the South East Texas Political Review whose radio talk show host calls by name the entire judiciary in Beaumont “corrupt and incompetent” would be liable (libel?) Who knows? Bentley may have just benefited by being in the system when the thousands of acres in Palestine and surrounding areas were seized and put up for sale. Being a district judge may have given him first shot at low bid at the Sheriff’s Auction.
Whatever the basis of Joe Bunton “personal vendetta” against the Anderson/Cherokee County judge, the fact remains the legal and law enforcement system operating with the corrupt Dogwood Narcotics Task Force out of Palestine, has branched into drug dealing. And under Tulia laws, a simple accusation results in forfeiture of property. The rest of Texas is shying away from this practice and there is now legislation to reign in these rouge anti-drug task forces. It took Governor Rick Perry to pardon 35 innocent defendants convicted under Tulia laws, while the good ol’ boys who prosecuted them ‘retire’ to Lake Palestine and Lake Jacksonville (with a little extra cash and land).(Source: CBS News)
The Captain points to Leon and Madison County whom he claims are also involved in the same well-orchestrated logistical trafficking operation of methamphetamine. “I have been investigating 2 pharmacists there he told us. Both were originally partner’s in the 1970s until one went to prison for over a decade when he was caught smuggling cocaine on I35. The other was actually arrested by the DEA around 10 years ago in his own pharmacy.” Yet they are pharmacists today? The Captain advised they are and one had received a Governor Pardon which enabled him to regain his pharmacy license.
The drug trade in neighboring Cherokee County involves local constable precincts, not the district courts per se. The district courts are involved in more personal enrichment schemes, like sexual blackmail of enemies and phone tapping. Typically, Anderson County probably does not operate the same as its twin sister Cherokee County. I would call Cherokee County the genetically defunct second cousin to Anderson County. Judge Bentley behaved one way on the record in Anderson County court and completely different in Cherokee County because he knows he is unaccountable in the Rusk, TX courthouse. In Leon County he seemed to have kept a low profile allowing the other District Judges there any publicity. More than one informant have told us he made a lot of money through Leon County.
Cherokee, Anderson or Leon County is simply not astute enough in its own self-worship to produce an official who would clean up the mess, without being extorted or blackmailed by the District Attorney’s office. God knows they hate people talking about them, i.e. they have convinced themselves that it is moral, albeit illegal, to tape record phone calls of citizens throughout the county. They will collectively smear and repeat any propaganda that the District Attorney tells them, not matter how ludicrous or unrealistic, for job security. Mind you 90% of them are related. What a way to make an East Texas living.
Anderson, Cherokee and Leon County law enforcement turns a blind eye to its own internal drug activity while at the same time paying off drug mules and jail house snitches. It is the usual suspects, one being a former DEA agent out of the Dogwood Narco-Force and a recently “retired” Cherokee County District Attorney Investigator.
Readers should applaud that the corrupt Dogwood Narcotics Task Force, based out of Palestine is no more. The only thing the unchecked Tulia Laws created with this pseudo-agency was the ongoing drug trade by Cherokee County law enforcement. There is a vacuum of drug dealing to fill, now that these good ole’ Christian men have “retired.” It takes neighboring Smith County and the US Attorney to file charges on the current culprits while at the same time relying on the same people for drug bust quotas.
In regard to the drug dealing of law enforcement in Cherokee County; let me give you some info on Cherokee County’s unscrupulous activity to be found on the internet. These news articles list the illegal activity in Cherokee County alone to numerous to list in a single article!!! The firing of Constable Precinct 3 Randall Thompson who was also the Cherokee County District court’s bailiff for Judge Bascom Bentley III. Fired for not showing up for his bailiff post. Local media portrays Thompson as missing for 6 months, then gathered a constable’s hearing together the day before Thompson was indicted in federal court. Ostensibly, the district court did not know that Constable Randy Thompson had been making and selling speed, if you believe such nonsense. Details can be found at the US Department of Justice news releases. Constable Randall Thompson had participated in all his assigned duties up to and after posting bond.
The firing of the New Summerfield Chief of Police after being fired from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Dept.
Chief of Police Chester Kennedy of Troup and Sgt. Mark Turner arrested by Smith County Sheriff Department for selling drugs. NO arrests by Cherokee County officials.
Jacksonville, TX police officer Larry Pugh molesting women during traffic stops; it takes the FBI to arrest him and charge him on 9 counts of rape and assault. AND when the guy is out on bond he tries to kill one of victims to keep from testifying.
More on Troup, Texas Police Chief Chester Kennedy caught tampering with drug evidence in future posts.
In New Summerfield, north of Rusk on Hwy 84. Chief of Police and city treasurer fired; mayor resigns after cleaning house.
A Jacksonville, TX woman is run down and killed in her own apartment complex. No investigation required according to current Cherokee County District Attorney Elmer C. Beckworth, Jr. The victim was a drunk ‘passed out in the parking lot.’ Beckworth offered no explanation for not bringing the case to trial; why bother to convene a formal grand jury when you know the outcome. Why even bother to NO-Bill the culprit, it’s easier to smear a hit-and-run fatality to the media.
To combat the systemic corruption, HB 1239 was written in 2004 and debated after the Tulia debacle, when 46 people were rounded up in Swisher County Texas during a drug sting and put on trial. Their properties were seized and several quick convictions handed down. The Dogwood Trails Narcotic Task Force was quietly dissolved after bad publicity leaked out about 72 indigent defendants with court appointed Anderson County lawyers being set free after their properties were seized. 60 Minutes did an expose’ in 2004 of the sham arrests in Tulia, TX.
The televised interview tells it all. Complete with gypsy cops with criminal records. (Warning its as dry as a freshman class lecture on Geology)
There were never any official arrests on record in Cherokee County by the Dogwood Task Force, though they conducted numerous raids. One botched raid simultaneously occurred in Jacksonville and Alto, TX, when the Force raided the wrong homes in an obvious attempt at “asset seizure.” The Department of Justice documented that the Dogwood Trails Narcotic Task Force operating under the radar in Cherokee and Anderson County reported no seized assets during the year 2002, despite having conducted numerous raids. And no arrests to back up the raids. Where did the seized drugs and money go???
Recently in Anderson County, Sheriff Greg Taylor sent his deputy’s to raid some gambling establishments. In each case they seized cash money but made no arrests. In one specific case the owner watched them via video on his cell phone as they broke open his safe and removed the contents. Over $10,000 cash. Kirk Readman said he was never charged with a crime. When it became clear he was not going to be he complained about the incident. Not long after complaining intruders came into his home and beat him so badly he was taken to the hospital in Palestine where he stayed several days. About the time of his release the Palestine Herald released a story about the proceeds of these raids being used to purchase drones for the Sheriff Department.
In closing the Captain who has worked almost every angle of Narcotic Trafficking says this. “Public corruption is not new and is almost always involved in any major narcotic network. Since the 1970’s one thing remains the same. Anytime before the Federal Indictments, when someone makes an accusation or criticism that is too close to what they are doing. The typical response is for them to ruin the credibility of the critic or accuser.”