Ector County Raising the Stakes in the War Against Illegal Dumping

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY--When it comes to illegal dumping, Ector County's Criminal Environmental Enforcement Investigator, Oscar Limon, takes his job very seriously.

"I want them to understand that Ector County is not going to tolerate any type of illegal dumping.  The law has been in place forever.  You can drive down any highway and see 'Don't Mess With Texas.'  Well guess what?  Ector County is in Texas," Limon said emphatically.

$24,000 in grant money is being put to use to clean up the dump sites, but it doesn't stop there.  County officials are taking some pretty high tech steps to keep an eye on things.  According to Commissioner Precinct 1, Freddie Gardner, "We're going to be placing cameras around at strategic spots.  It will take a picture of the person, their license tag, and their pick-up."

Like the saying goes, violators will be prosecuted.

"There won't be any warnings. If someone is caught dumping illegally, then they will be fined to the fullest extent of the law," Gardner explained.

At the illegal dump sites, you can find everything from furniture, household garbage to even baby's car seats.  But be warned, because the size and weight of what you throw away can determine the size of your fine.

"5 pounds and below is $500 dollars, then on up to 500 pounds.  They can be prosecuted and serve some jail time, because it is a felony over a certain weight," Gardner said.

Limon says, that's not all, "With the cooperation of the land or lease owners, they'll come in behind us and prosecute for criminal tresspass, which is a Class B misdemeanor in the State of Texas."

But why would someone press charges for having trash thrown on their property?  Limon explained that too, "Someone owns this land.  Just because there's not a dwelling on this place, this is someone's private property.  So it's no different than going to someone's house and  throwing a couch in front of their house and taking off."

Limon says many people aren't aware this is illegal and to some, this may be a harsh lesson to learn.  But this is the way it has to be, "We have to be harsh because if we don't, it's going to continue on and on. We're taking the proper steps to make this come to a stop."