Special Report, The Rise in Sex Offenders in the Basin - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Special Report, The Rise in Sex Offenders in the Basin

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By: Alexa Williams
NewsWest 9

The boom in the Basin is no secret. It has brought a lot of jobs, and economic growth to our area. However, with the good usually comes the bad, and more people means more crime.

"There is a lot of money here. People come here to work. I think it brings a larger criminal element with it. I know we are seeing a lot of federal probationers that are transferring in here, that had their cases transferred here so they can work," said U.S. Marshal, Steve Clark

Clark said they have seen a definite increase in sex offenders moving to the area. 

"People that show up from other areas and they come down here to work and many do and they don't register and they know they are suppose to," said Clark.

When a sex offender moves to a different city they have 72 hours to register and let local authorities know they are now living in the area. Right now in Midland County there are over 400 registered sex offenders, and over in Ector County there are over 300 registered offenders. But, those numbers could soon be getting bigger. In fact last year, U.S. Marshals tracked down almost 50 sex offenders who failed to register with the city.

"We located approximately 40 of them and so far this year we have located 20 of them and we are just in mid April, so the numbers appear to me to be going up," said Clark.

However, It's not just sex offender cases that are on the rise. Child exploitation cases are too. Most of which involve child pornography and enticing minors.

"Last year we had 12 cases total for the year, and thus far in fiscal year 2014 we have already opened 14," said Jerry Garnett, Resident Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Midland.

Garnett said although there is an increase in sexual predators in the area, It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason why. "It's hard to say whether there is an increase in the number of offenders that are in the area or if it is due to public awareness about the offenses taking place."

Whatever the reasoning might be,one thing is for sure. "The internet has become the new hunting ground for the predators," said Garnett.

Technology is usually our friend, but Garnett said children are starting to become internet savvy at such a young age, and that is extremely dangerous.

"These predators will go online looking for children and try to entice them into either sending images or trying to set up a meet," said Garnett.

Across the United States Homeland Security Investigations dedicated almost 1,000,000 hours to child exploitation cases last year. In an effort to lower the amount of child victims, HSI along with other federal agencies came out with a cyber safety campaign last month called iguardian.

"It's to educate children, parents, educators regarding the dangers of online sexual predators," said Garnett.

Although we are seeing an increase in sexual predators in the Basin, federal agents say they are working tirelessly to keep them off our streets for good.

"When we find out that we have got a sex offender that has violated in someway we will stop what we are doing and put our efforts towards that," said Clark.