Cattle Rustling in the 21st Century: Unraveling the West Texas Theft Ring

Cattle rustling, a term deeply rooted in the folklore of the American West, refers to the illegal act of stealing cattle. While it conjures images of masked outlaws on horseback from the 19th century, this crime persists in modern times, albeit with a shift in methods and motivations. Historically, cattle rustling was a significant issue in the United States, particularly in the 1800s when the cattle industry was booming, and vast herds roamed the open ranges of the West. During this era, rustlers often capitalized on the lack of formal property boundaries and law enforcement to drive away cattle and sell them for profit.

In the contemporary context, cattle rustling still impacts ranchers significantly, but the methods have evolved with the times. Modern rustlers might use trucks and trailers instead of horses, and they often exploit technological tools to alter or remove identifying marks on the cattle, such as ear tags or brands. This evolution in tactics has made it more challenging for law enforcement to track and apprehend these criminals. The motivation behind cattle rustling remains largely the same: profit. With the value of cattle remaining high, the theft can be lucrative for those willing to take the risk.

The impact of cattle rustling extends beyond the immediate loss of livestock. For ranchers, the theft of cattle can represent a significant financial blow, affecting their livelihoods and the local economy. In many cases, the stolen cattle are not just commodities but also part of carefully managed breeding programs, representing years of investment and effort. The loss can also disrupt the supply chain in the beef industry, affecting prices and availability in the market.

Law enforcement agencies and ranchers have employed various strategies to combat cattle rustling. These include improved surveillance techniques, such as the use of drones and GPS tracking, and more sophisticated methods of marking and identifying cattle. Additionally, there has been an increased emphasis on collaboration between ranchers, law enforcement, and livestock associations to share information and resources.

Despite these efforts, cattle rustling remains a challenging crime to prevent and prosecute. The vast expanses of rural land where cattle are raised make surveillance difficult, and the often-transient nature of the crime complicates law enforcement efforts.

Who Is Leroy Medlin?

Leroy Medlin is a figure who has come to public attention due to his involvement in a cattle theft ring in West Texas, which has led to his indictment and arrest. His story is a complex one, marked by a series of professional setbacks and legal troubles that have unfolded over the years.

Medlin’s career in law enforcement began with promise but was quickly marred by controversy. During his five-year tenure with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD), he accumulated three indefinite suspensions, which is the department’s equivalent of being fired.

The Three Indefinite Suspensions

Leroy Medlin’s career as a San Antonio police detective was marred by a series of serious professional missteps that led to his receiving three indefinite suspensions, effectively the equivalent of being fired from the police force. Each suspension was the result of actions that not only violated the San Antonio Police Department’s (SAPD) policies but also raised concerns about Medlin’s judgment and integrity as a law enforcement officer.

First Suspension: Vehicle Pursuit

The first indefinite suspension that Medlin received was in 2015, following an unauthorized vehicle pursuit. This incident began as a routine traffic stop, but when the suspect fled, Medlin initiated a chase. Initially, he reported over the radio that the suspect had a felony warrant, which would have justified the pursuit. However, after the chase was called off by a supervisor, Medlin’s account changed; he claimed over the radio that he could not verify the suspect’s identity. This inconsistency suggested that Medlin had not been truthful in his initial transmission. Furthermore, during the pursuit, Medlin observed a toddler in the back seat of the suspect’s vehicle but continued the high-speed chase, reaching speeds of up to 101 mph. This decision was particularly troubling as it showed a disregard for the safety of the child and other members of the public. The SAPD’s review of this incident concluded that Medlin had failed to exercise sound judgment and had violated the department’s pursuit policy.

Second Suspension: Unattended Prisoner

Medlin’s second indefinite suspension was related to an incident that occurred in September 2014. In this case, Medlin left his assigned district without authorization and left a female juvenile prisoner unattended in his patrol vehicle for an extended period. This breach of protocol was compounded by the fact that he left the juvenile to pursue another individual on foot, which not only violated department policy but also exposed the juvenile to potential harm. Initially, this incident resulted in a ten-day suspension, but it was still under appeal at the time of his subsequent indefinite suspension in 2015.

Third Suspension: Insubordination

The third indefinite suspension came later in Medlin’s career and was for insubordination. This suspension stemmed from a series of interactions with a supervisor regarding the issuance of “at fault” tickets at accident scenes. Medlin was instructed not to write these tickets, an instruction he followed for a time. However, after the supervisor who had given the instruction left the unit, Medlin resumed writing the tickets. He later claimed that he believed the instruction was merely the supervisor’s preference rather than official department policy. This action was seen as a direct violation of the orders he had been given and led to his suspension for insubordination.

Each suspension tells a part of the story of Medlin’s troubled career. The first suspension paints a picture of a police officer willing to bend the truth and department rules to continue a pursuit, potentially endangering a child in the process. The second highlights a disregard for the safety and well-being of those in his custody, and the third suggests a pattern of insubordination and a failure to follow departmental guidelines. Together, they depict a pattern of behavior unbecoming of a police officer, marked by poor judgment, a lack of adherence to protocol, and a troubling tendency to act independently of his superiors’ directives.

Medlin’s actions and the resulting disciplinary measures serve as a stark reminder of the importance of integrity, adherence to policy, and sound judgment in law enforcement. They underscore the responsibilities that officers have to the public, their department, and themselves to maintain the highest standards of conduct. Medlin’s case also highlights the challenges that police departments face in managing officers who repeatedly fail to meet these standards and the lengths to which departments must go to maintain discipline and public trust.

The Cattle Theft

The West Texas cattle theft ring, which saw the indictment of a former San Antonio police detective among others, was a calculated operation that exploited the sprawling ranch lands of West Texas. The group, which included Leroy Medlin, a fired SAPD officer, and Loving County Judge Skeet Jones, along with Jonathan Alvarado and Cody Williams, was accused of engaging in organized criminal activity. Their method was deceptively straightforward yet illegal: they gathered stray cattle and sold them without proper authorization.

The operation was not a matter of opportunistic theft but a coordinated effort that involved the theft of livestock valued under $150,000. The indictments suggest that the men knew exactly what they were doing and intentionally committed these acts. The theft of cattle is a significant crime in Texas, a state where livestock is not only part of the economy but also a symbol of its heritage. The act of selling stray cattle without authorization is a clear violation of Texas law, which has strict regulations regarding the sale and transfer of livestock to prevent such thefts.

Organized Theft Of Cattle

The four men were first arrested over a year before their indictment, indicating a lengthy investigation into their activities. The fact that a county judge was involved adds a layer of complexity and betrayal to the case, as an individual who is supposed to uphold the law is accused of breaking it. The involvement of Medlin, who had a history of disciplinary issues during his time with the SAPD, including a previous unauthorized pursuit and a third indefinite suspension for writing traffic citations for violations he did not witness, paints a picture of a man whose career in law enforcement was fraught with controversy.

The cattle theft ring’s activities would have involved identifying stray cattle, which are not uncommon in the vast expanses of West Texas ranch land, rounding them up, and then selling them as if they had the legal right to do so. This would have required knowledge of the local ranching operations and perhaps even inside information, which could explain the involvement of a county judge. The sale of these cattle without authorization would have resulted in profits for the men involved but at the expense of the rightful owners of the livestock.

The case against the men is a reminder of the enduring problem of cattle rustling in Texas, a crime that harks back to the days of the Old West but remains a modern-day issue. It also underscores the importance of vigilance and regulation in the livestock industry to protect ranchers from such thefts. The arrest and subsequent release of Medlin and Jones on bond is just one step in a legal process that will determine the full extent of their involvement and the consequences they will face for their actions.

The story of the West Texas cattle theft ring is not just about the crime itself but also about the individuals involved and the trust they are accused of betraying. It is a narrative that touches on themes of greed, deception, and the exploitation of one of Texas’s most iconic industries. As the case unfolds, it will likely continue to reveal the intricate details of how these men allegedly operated and the impact their actions had on the local community.

The Penalties That They Face?

The individuals involved in the West Texas cattle theft ring, including the fired San Antonio police detective Leroy Medlin and Loving County Judge Skeet Jones, along with Jonathon Alvarado and Cody Williams, face second-degree felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. According to the indictments, they are accused of knowingly and intentionally committing the offense of theft of livestock valued under $150,000.

In Texas, the penalty for a second-degree felony can be severe. While the specific penalties for each individual will depend on the outcome of their trials and any potential plea agreements, generally, a second-degree felony in Texas is punishable by a term of imprisonment ranging from 2 to 20 years in a state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Given the nature of the charges—engaging in organized criminal activity—the court may also consider the organized aspect of the crime, which could potentially influence the severity of the penalties. Additionally, the involvement of a county judge in the crime adds a layer of gravity to the situation, as it involves a breach of public trust, which could be an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The fact that Medlin and Jones were able to be released on a $5,000 bond indicates that they are not currently being held in custody as they await trial. However, this does not diminish the potential legal consequences they face if convicted of the charges against them.

The case against the cattle theft ring is a reminder of the serious legal repercussions that come with engaging in organized crime, especially when it involves the theft of property as significant as livestock in a state like Texas, where such crimes are taken very seriously due to the historical and economic importance of the cattle industry.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process. 

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.  

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case. 

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