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In November 2014, I met with a group of law enforcement officers at Coopers BBQ in Fort Worth and twice more over the following months. While skimming the paperwork and reports I was given, I listened to the guys talk about work, family, hunting –– this could be any group of family men. When we got to the subject of the gang unit, however, the mood changed. They looked me in the eye as they told me they felt betrayed, and they spoke with pride about the gang members they helped get out of the gang life and the drugs they took off the street. There was no bravado or posturing. Doing the right thing no matter what seemed to be the recurring theme. And these guys got visibly angry and distraught when they talked about the political maneuvering they had to engage in just to do their jobs. Some of these guys were Arlington police, some from other agencies, but all of them were bitter over the treatment of Paul Balson and the Arlington gang unit in general. The Arlington officers knew they could lose their jobs just for talking to me, but they felt their story needed to be told.

Steering clear of the fallout from the Gillon Drive incident, the unit shifted its focus from street gangs in South Arlington to cleaning up the Aryan Brotherhood drug network. In March 2010, Balson started working with the Tarrant County Drug Task Force, which included officers from other police departments. The street name “Baltimore” came up repeatedly in jailhouse interviews and through street informants. At the same time, during the task force’s prosecution of the Aryan Brotherhood in Houston for various violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the FBI kept hearing about a drug dealer in Arlington known only as “Baltimore,” who supplied the Aryan Brotherhood with cocaine and meth. All that was known at the time was that he was associated with the Mexican Mafia and had family living in Mission, Texas.

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Department of Public Safety officer Monte Dirickson and the FBI agent for the Fort Worth-Dallas area contacted Balson for help, requesting all the information he could obtain on Balitmore. Balson concentrated his jailhouse interviews on identifying Baltimore, and his interview skills were getting results.

Balson is “the best cop I ever worked with, and he does it for the right reasons,” said a former Arlington police officer who wished to remain anonymous. “He’s not vicious or mean. He can arrest a guy and then sit there five minutes later and talk to him, and he’ll treat him like a gentleman whether [the suspect] gives him information or not.”

Balson said that during these interviews, an admitted member of the Aryan Brotherhood said that the person codenamed Baltimore was the guy running the drug house that the C.O.P. volunteer had located, Solis. The gang member-turned-informant showed Balson storefronts, houses, vehicles, and associates who were all part of the drug operation. For his help, the informant was given leniency on pending charges and later became a confidential informant for the FBI, even making a meth buy for the agency.

The informant also detailed how the Aryan Brotherhood was using one of Bowman’s projects to get away with crimes in Arlington. Bowman had implemented a feature on the department’s website in which citizens could monitor in real time the location of officers responding to calls.

“I brought to light that the Aryan Brotherhood and a bunch of other gang members were monitoring the police internet site,” Balson said, “which at the time showed when officers were dispatched and when they were on their way” to a crime scene.

The criminals would monitor the website and use two-way radios to warn their members that police were on the way.

“The informant told me, ‘We’re not going to commit any crimes outside of Arlington because we have an internet site showing when officers are coming to get us,’ ” Balson said. “Bowman was real bitter about that because that was his baby, and he was real angry because I brought that out to light, and he had to change it.”

Bowman, who is now Arlington deputy city manager, declined to comment.

Balson expanded his intelligence gathering to jails in Tarrant, Dallas, and Parker counties. Attempts to work within his own department were met with resistance.

“I attempted to get Arlington PD Narcotics involved, but the narcotics sergeant at the time showed little interest in working with the gang unit,” Balson said. “However, I had an ongoing relationship with Tarrant County Narcotics Task Force, and due to the numerous areas that [the man known as] Baltimore was associated, it worked well to have Tarrant County working the narcotics.”

ICE invited Balson to attend their Aryan Brotherhood task force meetings, multi-jurisdictional intelligence sharing sessions relating to the RICO case being brought by attorney David Karpel of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. The ICE gang unit began assisting Arlington and helping with surveillance and arrests. The task force declared Solis a person of interest. Balson was supposed to provide information to the FBI agent, who would then disseminate that information to state and federal agencies. But, Balson said, the agent refused to follow up on any leads.

“Due to the [FBI agent] being busy with so many other leads, he requested that we keep working Arlington and provide him with all information for him to utilize in the federal case,” Balson said. “While working this case, there were numerous occasions that I provided [him] with information about Baltimore that I later learned never made it to DPS.”

After the agent failed to pass on the information, Baldemar “Baltimore” Solis slipped through the cracks. For that reason, he has been hard to locate for a response for this article.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. Arlington has a long history of backing growth and self-promotion at the expense of the future and residents’ quality of life. This is one more example of pretending everything is fine while making the city crumbles.

    The question that is left unasked: Does the ABT have men inside police and city management? APD will never root it out. We need DPS or the FBI to take a look.

    Fantastic article. We seldom see detailed investigative reporting like this any more.

  2. Chief Will Johnson, Asst Chief Jennifer White, Lieutenant Jerry Hattaway, Sergeant Thedrick Andres…… There is the list of “Administrators” that has failed not only an officer and police department but an entire city.

  3. The department is full of stories related to the betrayal of it’s own officers. This department has never been the same since the departure of David Kunkle. Jennifer White is a pathetic example of a leader as is Jaime Ayala. The problem with the leadership at APD is the tendency to promote people too early, at young ages. These ranks are filled with people whom have the selfish ideas of a younger generation and this is NEVER good for law enforcement. Mike Hollier is nothing more than milquetoast who tries to fit in with the younger generation.

    Sgt. Pilcher actually has the balls to stand up for hardworking officers and keeps the public’s safety a priority. Anyone that knows Pilcher will confirm his credibility is top tier. Furthermore, if Chief Will Johnson actually left firefighters in danger, Fire Chief Crowson should have been standing on Will’s skinny white neck demanding answers. The public’s safety is paramount and the top priority. Instead, Chief Johnson is worried about his social media footprint and personal image.

    Arlington PD needs to step up their game and take care of business. Who cares about Chief Johnson’s award for the use of social media. Social media awards don’t keep the citizens and TAXPAYERS safe. You will NEVER see Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye run his department in this manner. Great article and reporting.

    • I have to agree. Excellent reporting from Steve that left me completely stunned as I wondered how this would be allowed to happen under any police agency. This needs more eyes on this issue as there should never be “no respond” areas where criminals are given free reign over a community or street.

  4. Will this information be turned over to the Texas Rangers for an investigation of the APD?? This is incompetence at best and very possibly criminal since evidence/documents are missing. Excellent reporting. Every single chief and deputy chief who participated in this cover up should be FIRED.

  5. Abandon your own and leave a neighborhood to police protection that is dictated by political whims. Somebody in management needs to stand up for what is right. Protect the public and have your officers back. Then retire with your pride and the knowledge that you did the job right.
    Congrats to Grand Prairie PD for standing in the gap!

  6. As retread the article I became more incensed about the behavior of Arlington PD management.
    The treatment of Officer Balson and the protection of his family was unforgivable and clearly an internal fail. While not against the law,some internal policies were probably violated. The alledged destruction of evidence and investigative files needs to be investigated by an outside agency.

    Another disturbing factor is the directive to alter the police protection policy of a neighborhood, by stating that this area has a ” special policy ” and as stated in the article police were told to give up the authority of law. Law enforcement has many tools in their bag to deal with the community and many are negotiative in nature. Giving up the rule of arrest for criminal violation is the one that cannot be negotiated nor abdicated.The policy that was referenced in the article is the equivalant of giving up your authority as a law enforcement entity. This is a clear violation of the sworn duty. You might as well unload your officers weapons and make them wear a bullseye.

  7. Do not count on any of the people that are responsible for this to answer for it or accept responsibility. Some have retired, either because they couldn’t stand working there another minute even though they were willing to sell their soul for their position, and others, James Hawthorne, retired under investigation because they were arrested for domestic violence but it got swept under the rug. Others are still there and are so corrupt they believe they are untouchable and others are probably praying this doesn’t go any further. So glad I left, when your command staff has been described as a cancer, it’s time to go! APD administration needs a complete overhaul, City Council should be listening, this is not the first issue that has been brought to their attention and if they choose to ignore it, then the blood is on their hands as well. A major drug runner who is a major player in the Aryan Brotherhood AND gang members who wreak havoc on the city are getting the green light from the administration and you want the citizens to believe they are first priority? Wake up people. Let’s hope there are enough good officers left when this is all over to protect you from the bad guys and the upper ranks. Good luck!

    • APD takes their marching orders from the City Council I believe. The City Council recently named our city a ‘Dream City’ and is keen on trying to keep Arlington’s image clean.

      • Mike, APD administration does not tell City Council half of what they are doing. And Bowman is still calling the shots at the PD since he is the Deputy City manager and is still over APD. Will is not strong enough to go against him so he is just a lackey. No one there has any hope that it will change. They are promoting incompetent people who have no business leading people, just so they can easily control them. So far it is working.

  8. This makes me so sad. There are a lot of great people at APD and a lot of progressive and good things have been done. There are so many great, dedicated people who have been driven away by the dysfunctional environment that the department can’t hire enough people to stop the hemorrhage of people leaving. What I don’t expect to see, but wish for, is that administration could just stand up and say “we screwed up” and take responsibility for fixing what is so very wrong. But I don’t know that that can happen in the current climate. Instead they will try to spin the PR or punish the whistleblowers. It’s an unhealthy system that has to change, or a truly great department is ultimately doomed. This is only one of many examples of administrative failure, but it is a big one…people who put their lives on the line to serve their community deserve respect and support from their own department, and from the community. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. That’s gotten lost somewhere in the bureaucratic and corporate mentality of this organization, from city management on down. I hope something good can come out of the light shined on this travesty. I’m not holding my breath, though…

  9. This type of behavior and attitude toward its ranks are the reasons I left. I spent several years at APD and realized nothing is going to change.

  10. Good points made by all, so far…

    Another post referred to APD leadership as “cancer”. What an accurate description of the people making the decisions regarding the progression of the department. One has to understand that almost every police officer has an innate desire to do the right thing and go the extra mile for what they believe is right and just. Management consultants consistently advise this desire is eroded by heavy handed leadership and/or punishment actions which are not consistent with the ideals of accepted law enforcement practices and citizen needs.

    Translated, this results in rank and file officers who no longer trust their leadership and will no longer perform in a pro-active manner for fear of being punished or made an example of. This phenomenon is now magnified by the public scrutiny now faced in today’s law enforcement environment. Unfortunately, Chief Will Johnson is not willing to stand up for the officers under his direction. However, it is unfair to single out poor Will. Take a look at other senior leaders from APD. Whatever happened to Lisa Womack, James Hawthorne, and Ken Burton. A couple of them had dicey careers as chiefs with other departments, and one was investigated criminally for domestic violence while holding the position of assistant chief.

    This incident is firmly based on the command staff’s belief that the buck stops with them and should anyone question their logic, they will be punished. Obviously, this mentality has been demonstrated as the article reports. True leaders will always recognize (and utilize) the great minds of their subordinates. Yet, how could anyone be as smart and intelligent as one with a master’s degree or PhD? We could all go and get a master’s degree or PhD if the department let us go to school during work hours which is what has been afforded to many of these so-called “leaders”. Those of you whom are familiar with APD now know I am speaking truthful words. I bring all of this up to point out that these leadership issues run deep within the department and it will take some time to turn things around. Many of these folks have been “groomed” for many years prior to taking these positions. For most, APD is the only place they have worked and they don’t know any different.

    I am hopeful the officers involved in this travesty move on to wonderful careers elsewhere and they are recognized for their work ethic and dedication to their chosen line of work. Obviously, it isn’t going to happen in Arlington as many are finding out. Personally, I am enjoying my life after APD.

  11. When “Baltimore” gets arrested and he starts talking I wonder how many APD higher ups will be revealed as having been on his payroll?

  12. Don’t be quick to let Chief Johnson off as the “new” chief and not be responsible. He has been in charge for a few years now, and in that time he made decisions that provided insight into his allegiance. Regarding Hawthorne, arrested for domestic violence, and later charged with a protective order violation, Johnson merely allowed him to retire and take a $75,000 severance package, and cover up the protective order charge. Also, he received an honorable discharge as any good buddy would do for another. But officers who speak up, well they get sent to patrol, part time jobs suspended and forced to live in limbo with far less violations than anything criminal, much less domestic violence charges. The part time suspensions have become a favorite retaliation tactic all the way back to Deputy Chief Jennifer White days. This is considered “unappealable” and not “disciplinary.” This is the tactics used to intimidate within the Department and until now, none ever knew the DIRTY TRUTH! But hey, thanks for holding officers accountable like Chief Hawthorne.

  13. WHY hasn’t local TV media or major newspapers picked up this story? Arlington citizens deserve to know what the heck is going on in their police department. Maybe it will be THEIR neighborhood next time they call 911 and are told that the police are “not allowed” to respond to that area. They should be afraid . . . VERY afraid.

  14. Not surprising. When your culture places doing what is right for the organization over doing what is right, period, this is what happens. That has been the culture of APD for a long time, but reached new heights when the administration openly lied about training practices after a tragic death of an officer in a training exercise. That demonstrated to many that there was nothing sacred when it came to self protection under the Bowman administration.

    Sadly, many officers are hired directly out of college and think that all police departments work this way.

    Another antidotal yet true story: APD Officer stops a black female for a traffic violation. Officer is very courteous even when faced with an angry and verbally abusive violator. Officer writes her a ticket and lets her go.

    She files a complaint saying the officer used racist language toward her. Easy enough to determine, since the entire encounter was recorded on in car camera.

    The video showed a very patient officer professionally dealing with a verbally abusive violator. BUT, on the way back to his car, the officer made the mistake of spitting out a sunflower seed, which was technically against an obscure APD General Order.

    The officer was written up for that violation even though the complainant had lied about the original complaint. This is frequently done to appease the complainer at the expense of the officer.

    Where is that officer today? He was awarded officer of the year at Fort Worth PD last year.

    Like so many others, he saw the writing on the wall and GTFO.

  15. To the city of Arlington’s defense, that they allow the Entertainment District to be be downwind from GM and their two on-site Chesapeake padsites mining for natural gas having multiple, cumulative, and probably synergistic pollution shows that they really don’t care about bad PR to visitors. That the city has a PR program currently billing themselves as a DREAM city reflects their inattention to reality (“dreaming that this is a dream city”) even when it smells of ignored gang activity and rogue gas well odors (where no nuisance violation was charged against Chesapeake back in 1/30 & 1/31/2013 when those odors permeated the Entertainment District and people claimed health effects). Of course where was the media on that Chesapeake FAIL?

    • I am not sure what you are trying to demonstrate with your post, and I will not try to answer your question because I am not a person with the media. However, you are suggesting people should respond to other issues with the city which may be just as important and impacting as this article points out. Find people who know something about the issues you are concerned about and ask them. The people commenting on this article are either concerned about this situation regarding law enforcement services, or they wish to share specific information regarding this article. While some of us may be just as concerned with the issues you bring up, most likely we won’t comment directly because we don’t have credible information on those same issues. Certainly, you wouldn’t want people to comment on issues they know nothing about.

  16. The Weeklys Blog is sort of liberal, decent, and open to all. Can you imagine that? We’re not real big on cops telling what to write? Your Mama have any brats that lived?

    • Benny…you should re-read her post and then re-read my response. She is asking for a comment on something not related to his article. We (people who know what we speak of) aren’t likely to produce needless rhetoric about issues which we don’t have sufficient knowledge of. Unlike you, we are trying to affect change and encourage public knowledge of an issue in which is of significant public interest.

      Have a good day, sir.

      • Prior….you should kiss my foot. Showing up here making demands of other commenters reflects an attitude of a Tea-Bagging, self-entitled half-wit. People here can estimate your credibility and beliefs without your self promotion and, trust me, advising us of your stupid association with APD doesn’t speak well of your inteligence or ethics. What do you eat? Get over yourself. One of the most stupid things imaginable is to make someone aware you were an Arlington Pig. My bird-dog is smarter than that.

  17. He’s not the boss, but he obviously has insight (since he worked there) and something to contribute to the story that relates to it. Gas wells? This is very serious stuff. Hits on officers. Drug rings. Organized crime. Administrations that leave their officers and their families out in the cold with credible threats like that. Corrupt FBI agents! Why in the hell is this not being investigated by an outside agency? Abandoning a neighborhood! What planet is this? Bowman was more concerned with the fallout from shutting down a topless bar. Keep digging. Tip of the iceberg I’m betting. APD is not being held accountable. They seem more concerned about appearances than doing their job and protecting their own. I am sharing this story everywhere I can. Fantastic investigative reporting.

    • Up until this point, you’re the first dummy I have observed demanding to call the shots and inform folks what they have to do and say on this Blog? What do you eat? My bird-dog Roxy has more humility than you, you a Tea-Bagger or foot-washing Holy-Roller? Who picked you to call the shots on this Blog. You some kind of Guru or did we take a vote to make you the Boss? You smell like a Tea-Bagging jerk all the way through my screen here. I suggest you hang around a while prior to issueing orders and throwing your 5th grade demands and dim-witted beliefs around. See? Get over yourself dude. Hope this helps.

  18. The recognition that the Arlington Police Department is rotten and stinking is not news to anyone who has had close association with it. This is certainly not news to any civilian who has been accused of or suspected of criminal behavior in that city. Any cop that has worked there for a few years is aware of this fact, don’t let them tell you different. If doing wrong… if lying, stealing, mistreating citizens, and having an attitude of HOORAY for me…screw you was causation to be removed from police duty in Arlington, well then, the stinking police force in Arlington could be counted on one hand. I’m certain many decent people have left the department. If you know one of them personally, ask them if I’m right. This is not something new, no way Jo’se. I expect than any officer who works with that rotten organization is absolutely aware of what I submit to this discustion. The thing about it is that the cops love their work. The other side of that coin is that more often than you would ever imagine, you can’t tell the cops from the robbers….true, really, true. If you know one of the bums really good, just ask him. They’re like Heckle & Jeckel, the crows in cartoons. I suspect it’s a personality deal, both cops and robbers love the action. Cops have the job because they like the action, they love their work. Most cops would work for free if they didn’t need the money.

  19. Last time I checked, no one was holdind a gun on any Arlington cop causing her or him to remain associated with a rotten, stinking, government outfit that seriously did not give a damn for doing the honorable, decent job that each of the losers swore to do. Whose on first? Why in pluperfect hell does any decent, honorable person stick with this gang of Peckerwoods? An alcoholic, a true, strung-out, falling down drunkard believes and feels that he or she is going to DIE if they consider or begin an attempt to dry up and amount to something, yet many face this tragedy and prevail…truly a killer deal to experience. What is preventing these self-importent Peckerwoods from coming clean, cleaning up, and amounting to something? Each and every cop associated with the Arlington P.D. more than a couple of years is aware of the indecent, revolting, stench of the rotten outfit. We are caused to presume they simply don’t care, it’s to tough to behave with decency. I suggest we all pray for the cowardly rats.

  20. I really hoped this story would have gotten more traction with other local mainstream media outlets. I guess the APD media machine has won again. Sad, because it would be really easy to settle at least one thing. Produce the green notebook and let the public see what is inside. And if they can’t produce it, an independent investigation is in order.

    Regardless, I continue to pray for the rank and file officers that city administrators (not Bowman, who I promise you still works half days) and city council finally open their eyes and hire a chief that is willing to make sweeping changes to the culture of that agency.

    And Benny, many people have families to support. Not only that, there is seniority (read: new schedule that won’t jive with family schedule), retirement loss, and pay cut (you start at the bottom of the pay scale at a new agency) to consider. Those that don’t buy into the corrupt culture simple get in their patrol car, answer their calls for service, do little else and hope that a situation doesn’t happen where it is inconvenient for APD administration to stand behind them, because they know they are screwed. The ones that can leave usually do, either to the Feds or to other agencies (5 to Grand Prairie alone last year, I hear). So slow your roll and go outside and play. It’s summer, you know…

  21. I really hoped this story would have gotten more traction with other local mainstream media outlets. I guess the APD media machine has won again. Sad, because it would be really easy to settle at least one thing. Produce the green notebook and let the public see what is inside. And if they can’t produce it, an independent investigation is in order.

    Regardless, I continue to pray for the rank and file officers that city administrators (not Bowman, who I promise you still works half days) and city council finally open their eyes and hire a chief that is willing to make sweeping changes to the culture of that agency.

    And Benny, many people have families to support. Not only that, there is seniority (read: new schedule that won’t jive with family schedule), retirement loss, and pay cut (you start at the bottom of the pay scale at a new agency) to consider. Those that don’t buy into the corrupt culture simple get in their patrol car, answer their calls for service, do little else and hope that a situation doesn’t happen where it is inconvenient for APD administration to stand behind them, because they know they are screwed. The ones that can leave usually do, either to the Feds or to other agencies (5 to Grand Prairie alone last year, I hear). So slow your roll and go outside and play. It’s summer, you know…

    • We agree on one thing, the APD has clearly been needing looked into since waaay back to the sixties. I am aquainted with officers from back then up until the turn of the century. Arlington P.D. has never been much to brag about, the bosses never amounted to much. There’s nothing new to see there. I will add that the probability that we can expect some oversight and determination to bring the bastards to Jesus is not good. Seems to me, someone close to the top is going to have to come clean …not the way to bet. I disagree that citizens are not entitled to demand that officers behave like square citizens and put the aces in the places concerning the cheap, devious, dishonorable, and through the years, illegal behavior behind them. They signed on to do that, and they should By God do it. It’s either that or they are not worth a tinkers dam. What in pluperfect hell is wrong with you? They sighed on to do the job, stand up straight and get it right, no whining. Whose on first? What the hell? Has it come to this, do they fail to have a single hair on their ass??? I got your summer right cheer, Bubba. What’s the matter with you???

  22. Most of what you hear from an informant is false. Informants are only saying what cops want to hear and most of what they hear is from people who only wished they knew Mr. Solis. These so called peckerwoods are all dope fiends and will and did take it upon themselves to do something stupid like talk about knocking off a APD detective/ gang unit officer or whatever… Truth be told all these so called hit men “Smiley and QB” are not what they have been made to be. If you really knew the game or the facts to this story ypu would all think twice before making a judgement on Mr. Solis. Now APD is corrupt without a doubt. Narcotics Detective Pamela Gold, is a joke and does not know how to do her job, she did some shady stuff in 2015.

    I am sorry that this officer was caught up in this so called hit and the finger should be pointed at the APD as they are the ones who more than likely was calling the shots on the hit.

  23. This story is and was more about the corruption of the APD than that of Mr. Solis. Solis has been made the scapegoat to cover up what APD has allowed to happen in the city of Arlington “Dream City”. My big toe. APD has created a smoke screen and the masses follow. The masses are going to follow whatever APD states as the truth and never question. That goes for all that believe that Solis is this person that the APD and their informants have made him to be. This is stuff your see in a B movie. Step outside the box and maybe you will see that half of what you see or hear is not at all what it has been made out to be.

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