“I worked with the Fort Worth gang unit a couple weeks ago,” Balson said. “They told me that after all of us were kicked out of the gang unit, the new gang unit came in with these guys who had never done it before. They went to Fort Worth to learn how to work gangs because they were told that they didn’t want to learn anything from us because we’re a rogue unit.”
The new gang unit is education- rather than enforcement-oriented. Gang-related arrests dropped from 266 in 2011 to 66 in 2012 and since then have never topped 100 for the year.
Balson no longer works for the Arlington Police Department. He quit in September of 2012. He still works in law enforcement, but due to the sensitivity of his current assignment, he asked me not to disclose the organization. He is somewhat of a pariah within Arlington PD, so much so that even in an official capacity, Arlington police administrators refuse to work with him.
“They won’t even say my name,” Balson said.
No bad guys seem to be actively pursuing the alleged contract on Balson now that he is no longer with the department. Baldemar Solis is still out there. Although he has never been convicted of any serious crime, there is still that federal narcotics arrest warrant on him. He is believed to be still living in Arlington, where the officers who spoke with me said he feels safe.
“He really is [safe] in Arlington,” Balson said. “No one in Narcotics is looking for him. No one in Arlington Fugitives is looking for him. I think he’s a pretty smart guy, and it’s going to take some time to find him. Since the gang unit was disbanded, [the Arlington Police Department] kind of wants [the case] to go away. It was a thorn in the side of the administration, and it really killed morale for the department. They did enough for the DEA to get a warrant from the information I gave them. [To them], that’s just as good as an arrest. They get a stat for that to show that they’ve done their due diligence.
“It makes me mad,” Balson continued, “that as a taxpaying citizen that they would let this guy go on so long. To really go after Baltimore, they’re going to have to have real narcotics detectives who are willing to go out there and really look for him, and Arlington PD narcotics [officers] are not known for that.”
Recently, the officers who spoke with me said an informant supplied information that possibly could lead to the arrest of Solis, and the DPS put together an operation involving the ICE national gang unit and the Grand Prairie and Arlington police forces. Grand Prairie gave an operational briefing on the full history of Solis and the threat against Balson. As soon as Arlington police bosses found out who they were going after, they pulled out of the operation with no explanation, the officers said, telling Grand Prairie that they would not provide assistance. “Baltimore” was not arrested.
Gilliam quit his job with Arlington police, and while I cannot disclose the nature of his current assignment, I can say that he works for the federal government. He describes this murder-for-hire investigation as the most frustrating of his career.
“I think ignoring intelligence is a foolish thing to do in an investigation, and we normally don’t do that,” he said. “If we get a tip that bad guy X is going to rob a Taco Cabana, well, we’re going to look into that tip, and we’re going to stake out and see if bad guy X is coming there. We’re not just going to be like, ‘Well, we don’t have anything to prove it.’ That’s ludicrous. And that’s what happened in this investigation. They chose to ignore. It just wasn’t right. [Balson] deserved better. He was an officer who took an oath to protect the citizens, and in the midst of doing that he became a target, and our own department was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ That was wrong.”
Fort Worth journalist Steve Watkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.