Special rangers from the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) arrested four individuals on Friday, May 20, for allegedly running a cattle rustling operation. Among those arrested was Loving County Judge Skeet Jones.
Loving County sits just west of the right-angle border with New Mexico. It is the smallest county by population in the entire contiguous United States, with 64 people living within its borders as of the 2020 U.S. Census.
According to NewsWest 9, TSCRA rangers had been investigating cattle theft around Loving County for nearly a year. Ranchers complained about not being able to locate stray animals despite notifying their neighbors and nearby property owners.
Now Jones and three accomplices are the prime suspects in what prosecutors allege was a cattle rustling operation that involved taking possession of stray cattle and selling them for profit. The sale of stolen livestock still happens in the southwest, with thieves passing off animals as their own at livestock auction houses.
Rangers arrested the 71-year-old county judge, Skeet Jones, Leroy Medlin Jr., 35, Cody Williams, 31, and Jonathon Alvarado, 23.
Medlin used to work as a deputy for the Loving County Sheriff’s Office before “separating” from the agency after just two years. Before joining the sheriff’s office, Medlin worked as a detective in San Antonio, where he allegedly received multiple suspensions for “reckless and corrupt behavior.”
Jones has previously been the subject of legal scrutiny unrelated to the alleged cattle rustling. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated Jones in 2016. It concluded he acted improperly in handling speeding ticket violations and marijuana possession charges, many of which he allegedly changed into parking tickets with steep fines above the legal limit.
He denied any wrongdoing and claimed he just signed off on plea deals presented to him. The Commission ultimately issued a public reprimand and ordered him to complete a 10-hour course on courtroom procedure.