A phone call by residents reporting a possible burglary led authorities to discover a burglary ring, fencing operation, meth lab and some explosive devices.
After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, deputies found stolen property, items used to melt copper, methamphetamines, firearms, pipe bombs and bomb making materials.
Lindsey said his office contacted the Garland Bomb Squad and the Tyler office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives who responded to the scene.
“Upon arrival the Garland Bomb Squad confirmed the presence of an active pipe bomb at the residence and contained and successfully destroyed the device. Along with the live pipe bomb two other inert devices were also located at the residence,” he said.
Additionally the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal's Office, the Garland Health and Safety Department was contacted to inspect chemical agents that were also located on the property.
The Garland Health and Safety Department was able to take possession of these hazardous chemicals including a large quantity of mercury.
Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen located several violations of water pollution and illegal commercial dumping at the location, and the property owner was cited for those violations.
As the investigation continued, new information led authorities to another residence where they found a large quantity of stolen merchandise, drugs and firearms and Lindsey said it appeared to be a fencing operation where stolen property was exchanged for narcotics.
Multiple people were charged in connection with the investigation and they are awaiting arraignment this morning.
Newly elected Ray stated, “This is an excellent example of what happens when area law enforcement agencies work well together. Unfortunately our county is infested with criminals who will not work and all they want to do is break into homes and steal property from law abiding citizens and then trade it for dope. The men and women of the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office are committed to protecting the property and the homes of our citizens. It is a difficult job because we are so outnumbered. It is rewarding, however, to work alongside the other law enforcement agencies in this county to combat these criminals and their illegal activities.”
ATF Senior resident Agent in Charge, Clay Alexander said federal charges will not be sought in the case, because the devices found do not meet the federal guidelines as pertaining to the explosive devices. Not your typical pipe bomb.
However, he added they can face charges relating to the devices under state laws.