Constable’s office cracks picnic table theft case

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After an investigation of more than a week, a search warrant was executed on Feb. 22 in Alba in connection with the theft and vandalizing of picnic tables at Lake Holbrook, according to a news release from Precinct 2 Constable Kelly Smith.

Two of the tables were recovered. One was at the residence and another had been taken to the Sabine River in an attempt to dispose of it before law enforcement arrived, according to the news release.

The four suspects apparently got nervous and dumped the table when the constable patrol unit was observed in the area. 

Another six tables from Lake Holbrooke will be replaced by the suspects and returned to Commissioner Jerry Gaskill. The individuals suspected in the picnic table crimes face a total of six criminal charges between the four of them, and one is a suspect in another crime committed in Wood County. K9 Juma, a trained police dog, was utilized to search the residence. A small amount of contraband was located inside the residence unrelated to the initial offense. The ages of these suspects range from 17-21 and are all local Mineola residents, according to the constable’s office.

Since September, K9 Juma has been utilized in numerous capacities such as presentations at schools across the county, school searches, drug seizures in traffic stops, hotel/motel open air sniffs and crime scene searches. 

On Feb. 23, a late evening search warrant was issued after Juma detected contraband at a hotel in Wood County. Juma and Smith routinely walk the corridors and parking lots of hotels and motels, business parking lots, and businesses at the request of the business owners. Those patrols have led to drug seizures, fugitive apprehension, recovery of stolen vehicles and arrests, according to the constable’s office.  

Juma alerted Smith to a room, and he drafted a search warrant affidavit. The Wood County District Attorney’s Office and an investigator were consulted. This is believed to be one of the first search warrants issued in Wood County based on probable cause developed by a canine team, according to Smith. The affidavit was presented to Wood County District Judge Jeff Fletcher, who issued a search warrant. Mineola police arrived to assist and played a large part in the recovery of methamphetamine, marijuana and the apprehension of a Wood County fugitive.

Dustin McClain of Quitman and Melissa Salazar of Quitman were arrested for possession of a controlled substance 1-4 grams, a third-degree felony. Salazar also had two outstanding warrants out of Wood County with outstanding bonds totaling $80,000.

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