WAXAHACHIE — An Ellis County Grand Jury reviewed the "fishy" evidence against Marcus Lynn Phillips and handed down an indictment on May 24. The grand jury indicted the Wichita Falls resident on the charge of cargo theft after he reported stole a semi truck loaded down in Midlothian with over $100,000 of StarKist canned tuna on board.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office arrested Phillips and booked him into the Wayne McCollum Detention Center on March 6.

According to the indictment, Phillips allegedly facilitated an activity in which he received, possessed, concealed, stored or disposed of stolen cargo by possessing the truck with tuna or selling it. The indictment stated that the tuna had a value of $100,000 or more but less than $200,000. The theft took place on July 2, 2016.

Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force Capt. Stan Davis said the original driver parked the semi-truck in the 200 block of Henderson St. in Midlothian. When the driver came back the next day, he discovered the vehicle was missing. The task force then began working in conjunction with the Midlothian Police Department.

“A portion of it was recovered in Dallas County from a storage facility. Another investigator had some information that cargo theft suspects frequented that area and had gone to that area," Davis said in a March 11 Daily Light article. "That is how he located it."

Davis continued that — through the investigative process and talking to different witnesses — the investigator was able to identify Phillips as a suspect about a month after the theft took place. Davis added that Phillips has a history of cargo theft offenses in Dallas County.

“Cargo theft is a fairly new statute. Cargo theft used to fall under the theft statute, regular theft, but because it is such a multi-billion dollar problem in the United States they got legislators a couple of years ago to make it a more serious offense,” Davis said previously. “It really depends on the value of it. This is a theft of cargo between $100,000 - $200,000. It is a third-degree felony. It is up to 10 years in state prison.”

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, the Tri-County Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Task Force consists of six full-time investigators, two part-time officers, and one secretary. The Task Force serves the unincorporated portions of Johnson and Ellis County as well as the Cities of Mansfield and Burleson.

“We are a multi-county auto task force group and we are funded through the state,” Davis added. “Agencies within our service area can participate and do joint efforts to combat auto thefts.”

The Mansfield Police Department’s website states that the Tri-County Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Task Force is funded through grants by the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority. In 2009, the ABTPA became part of the newly established Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Phillips was booked into the detention center at 2:49 p.m. on March 6. He remains in custody on a $40,000 bond as of noon Wednesday, May 31.

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