Before the sun rose Friday morning, Denton County Sheriff’s deputies were packing their cars in preparation for a roundup of individuals suspected of child sex crimes.
The effort was a month in the making, and the county sheriff’s department partnered with investigators from Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson’s office and the U.S. Marshals Service.
“I’m ready to get some of these men off the street today,” Sheriff William Travis said before pulling out of the parking lot.
The investigators and deputies were divided into three teams and sent off with a total of 36 warrants naming individuals all across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Travis said the suspects sought in the roundup were wanted for various sexual offenses against children, ranging from failure to report an offense to sexual acts with a child.
Travis’ team had a list of suspects who were confirmed to be Denton County residents.
One by one, and after nearly six hours on the road, Travis learned the people on his list had moved to other locations.
“That’s the problem with rentals,” Travis said.
Through interviews, deputies learned a majority of the suspects had already fled to Mexico, a common tactic, Travis said.
“That’s why we partnered up with the U.S. Marshals,” he said. “They can go where we can’t and bring justice.”
Two arrests were made by other teams serving warrants across North Texas.
David Lee Smith was arrested in Mesquite on two counts of sexual assault of a child/contact.
Officials said a team in Carrollton arrested Fernando Rodriguez-Martinez on an indecent exposure charge.
Both individuals were booked into the Denton County Jail on Friday afternoon.
Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said this is the first time Denton County has conducted a roundup of this sort.
“The warrants that were not served today, will be served at a later date,” she said.
Travis said no additional deputies were put on for the roundup, so no additional money was used.
“This is what these guys do every day — today was just specifically targeted to child sex crimes,” Travis said.
A total of 20 deputies worked the day’s roundup.
Travis said Friday’s disappointments will not stop him from continuing efforts to get suspected criminals off the streets.
“This is something that needed to be done; we are learning that the past resources the sheriff’s office had weren’t the best, and we need to get some new tools in place to make sure we can more easily target these offenders,” he said.
In previous interviews and during his campaigning efforts, Travis stated time and again that he wanted to crack down on child sex crimes.
“I’m still working on a few software items to get us up to speed on where we need to be, but I can assure you I’m going to do my best to remove as many of these offenders off the streets as possible,” he said Friday.
For video of Friday’s roundup, visit www.dentonrc.com and click on the newest edition of “Gray Matters.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.