By CHRISTIN COYNE
A Parker County grand jury Thursday indicted nine men accused of organized criminal activity involving numerous property thefts and drug trafficking in Parker County.
Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes investigators say the organized crime suspects stole more than $100,000 in property across North Texas over several months and distributed methamphetamine.
Property crimes the group are believed to be responsible for include attempting to steal an ATM from a bank in Cool while using a stolen truck, burglaries and thefts at several Azle-area restaurants, burglaries at Morrison Supply Company in Weatherford and numerous vehicle, trailer and equipment thefts.
More than $125,000 in stolen property, including vehicles, trailers and heavy equipment, was recovered at four Parker County residences in April, according to search warrants.
James Carroll Mathews, 43, a parolee, is believed to have been distributing methamphetamine and directing many of the suspects involved in the property crimes, according to SCU.
They also located approximately 2.5 ounces of methamphetamine in his vehicle during a traffic stop and located stolen property at his Azle-area residence, according to court documents.
Investigators say some of the suspects are also believed to be responsible for an attempted ATM theft in Cool, an ATM theft from a topless bar in Tarrant County and several other unsuccessful ATM thefts.
Jimmy Earl Freeman reportedly admitted responsibility for a burglary of an Azle fast-food restaurant in January that resulted in a police pursuit. Freeman broke into the restaurant, wrapped a chain around the safe, and used a stolen pickup to pull the safe from the building, according to authorities. The safe fell out of the pickup, disabling it, during the resulting police pursuit, but Freeman was able to get away on foot, he reportedly told authorities.
One suspect, Coleman Wayne Hampton, 41, indicted on a charge of engaging in criminal activity by conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, was a substitute teacher at Boyd ISD at the time, according to an investigator, who said he notified the school district of the charge against Hampton.