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PAPD Chief believes Verizon robbery suspect has left area; organized search ends

PORT ARTHUR - Port Arthur Police believe a Verizon wireless robbery suspect who was the focus of a massive search has now left the area, according to Chief Mark Blanton, who says the area is just too large to cover every potential escape spot, especially at night.

Anthony Nichols was the focus of the search. He's accused of taking part in the robbery of a Verizon Wireless store off I-10 in Beaumont earlier this month.

Chief Blanton says the search area near the Walmart in Port Arthur is about 700 acres. Police believe Nichols may have had outside help in leaving the area.

Driver dies after car crashes into church and burns

BEAUMONT - A driver died after he ran into a church and his car began burning, according to information Beaumont Police Dispatch provided to KFDM News.

Police tell KFDM the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed when he ran a stop sign and crashed into Calder Baptist Church near 11th and Long at about 3:45 a.m. Thursday. The vehicle began burning.

The driver died at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth.

Police haven't released the driver's name.

JCSO monitoring sex offenders on Halloween

JASPER COUNTY - by Steve W Stewart/KJAS and Rayburn Broadcasting Company

As Halloween approaches on Friday, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department said on Wednesday that they are keeping close tabs on registered sex offenders this week, several of which will be closely monitored on Halloween; while certain others will be required to attend a meeting in Beaumont.

Communications Director Laura Moore, who also serves as the sex offender registrar for the county, says that the county currently has 117 registered sex offenders, of which 21 are considered high risk and they are completely restricted from contact with any children.

Moore said those particular individuals are not allowed to have any type of Halloween decorations displayed at their homes, or anything that would entice a child to come to their home on Halloween.

According to Moore, deputies will be continually monitoring those homes during Halloween.

There is another group, according to Moore, who are currently out of prison on parole for sexual crimes, and those individuals are required by the State of Texas to attend a mandatory meeting in Beaumont for several hours on Halloween night.

Moore said monitoring sex offenders is getting tougher because the courts have been releasing them from state and federal prisons at an alarming rate this year, before their sentence has even been carried out. Moore pointed out that just one month ago, Jasper County had 100 registered sex offenders, and that number has jumped to 117 now.

According to Moore, law enforcement needs the help of the community to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Moore said “It’s up to us, along with mothers, fathers, and community leaders to keep an eye out for our children”. Moore emphasized “If you see something suspicious involving an adult and a child, you need to call us, that’s what we’re here for, just call us”.

The Texas Department of Public Safety sex offender website lists two female registered sex offenders in Jasper County, and the rest are male.

The Texas DPS sex offender website can be found at https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/SexOffender/Index.aspx

The Family Watchdog sex offender website can be found at http://www.familywatchdog.us/default.asp

Warrants target what investigators call illegal gambling sites

BEAUMONT/PORT ARTHUR - From Beaumont Police Department

A four-month investigation has been targeting illegal gambling operations in the cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur.  The joint investigation involved the Beaumont Police Department Narcotics Unit, Port Arthur Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Watch Six News Tonight at 10 and Haley Bull's report  on the raids.

With the assistance of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the investigators have been able to obtain several search warrants for locations in Beaumont and Port Arthur.  Officers served those warrants this evening at the following locations:

2685 South Major            Beaumont           Private residence

2695 South Major            Beaumont           Private residence

4380 South Fourth           Beaumont           Shanghai Amusement Game Room

3229 Washington             Beaumont           Happy Mood Amusement Game Room

3890 Highland Ave           Beaumont           Seashell Gift Shop

2949 College #215            Beaumont           Lala Gift Shop

4948 Griffing Dr.               Port Arthur         Life of Luxury Gift Shop

Agencies who assisted in the execution of the search warrants include the Beaumont Police Department SWAT Team, Special Assignment Unit, and K9’s, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.  

D.A. releases information about raids of suspected illegal gambling sites

BEAUMONT, Texas - From Jefferson County District Attorney's Office

Criminal District Attorney Cory Crenshaw announces today that a multi-agency law enforcement operation is currently underway and has resulted in numerous arrests and the seizure of illegal proceeds from gambling operations located throughout Jefferson County.     

Due to a continuing investigation, specifics regarding the names of those arrested and the amount of seized funds is not currently available.  Over the past several months, law enforcement has focused on illegal gambling operations throughout Jefferson County which use the appearance of various businesses to mask illegal “game rooms” that make significant proceeds on 8-liner machines and other gaming devices.  

Under state law, most gambling related offenses are misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine.  However, due to the organized element of the criminal enterprises involved in these cases, more serious felony charges are being pursued and some individuals may face decades behind bars if convicted.

Following today’s operation, Criminal District Attorney Crenshaw stated, “The cost of doing business for criminals just went up in Jefferson County.  Many perceive game rooms and the illegal gambling they promote to be of little significance in the grand scheme of crime that we face.  This is simply not the case.  Often these game rooms are a breeding ground for various criminal activities, including narcotics, and violent crime such as aggravated robbery.  The coordinated effort of law enforcement in this case to not just make arrests, but pursue the seizure of significant financial proceeds and develop cases for crimes with more severe penalties are steps in the right direction for raising the cost of doing business for criminals and making our community a safer place to live.”

Law enforcement agencies participating in the operation include the Beaumont Police Department, Port Arthur Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies.  Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Clint Woods and Dan Hunt are prosecuting state cases arising out of this operation.

Local volunteer firefighter killed in motorcycle accident
KFDM News - A local volunteer firefighter is dead following a crash.

Investigators say Bill Huggins of Silsbee was riding his motorcycle Wednesday morning when he hit the back of a large work truck on North Pine Street in Kountze.

Paramedics transported Huggins Christus Hospital Saint Elizabeth where he died.

The driver of the truck wasn't injured.

Huggins was a volunteer firefighter in Silsbee.

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