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21-year-old arrested in Gregg County petroleum theft investigation

Bob Webx Oil Follow Up
Bob Webx Oil Follow Up(KLTV)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 3:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 16, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - New details in on the investigation into East Texas petroleum thefts.

Investigators with the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office now know how and why it was done.

In a continuing investigation, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office along with other law enforcement are looking into the scope of the organized theft of petroleum products from East Texas locations.

“We have a subcontractor that was employed to do a legitimate business, in the course of that business, we know this person was stealing oil from his employer,” said Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Josh Tubb.

Weeks of investigation led to an undercover operation that resulted in the seizure of 4 semi-trucks and a passenger vehicle all used in the thefts, and all in a Kilgore impound now.

But the question comes up why? What do you do with stolen oil?

Money of course.

“Based on the fact that this person had a legitimate business, he also had a way to try to sell the product. The price of oil is 70-dollars a barrel, so you can imagine how much a tank truck holds. You steal 15-20 barrels, that’s a lot of money,” Tubb says.

One arrest has been made so far; Roel Morales, 21, of Kilgore on charges of petroleum theft.

“Loss is a loss, and it transfers down to their customers and shipping, which affects our citizens on the price at the pumps,” the lieutenant says.

The focus now is how big an operation this is and how many people are involved.

“There’s still a lot of moving parts. We don’t know how many of these may have been affected, and that’s what we’re continuing to investigate,” says Tubb.

Morales is charged with theft of petroleum, stealing less than $10,000 worth. This charge is considered a state jail felony and could carry a fine and up to two years in prison, if he is convicted.

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