WILLIAM TOWNSEND IS NOW BEHIND BARS!
By: Jamie Nash
One of the county’s most notorious fugitives is back in the Montgomery County Jail after he was arrested by Mexican authorities and released to US law enforcement.
The Texas Rangers intervened on behalf of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and negotiated the transfer of 34-year-old William David Townsend, Jr. from Mexico to the U.S., according to Captain Bruce Zenor of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
In May, 2007, a long-term investigation by the MCSO Special Investigations Unit led to Townsend’s arrest. At the time, the SIU suspected Townsend was involved in a multi-state drug-trafficking operation, a murder and illegal dog and rooster fighting. The Willis resident was arrested while allegedly purchasing 5 kilograms of cocaine in South Montgomery County.
Townsend was charged with aggravated possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), which is an unusual charge that applies only to drugs weighing over 400 grams; second-degree felony illegal investment; state jail felony money laundering; two counts of first-degree felony delivery of a controlled substance and second-degree felony delivery of a controlled substance.
Tabitha Townsend, William’s wife, was subsequently arrested at their residence where SIU Lt. Philip Cash said the couple and several other suspects were trafficking large quantities of prescription pills and large amounts of cocaine. Liberty County law enforcement had also investigated William Townsend’s possible involvement in the death of Thomas Weigner, Jr., a man well-known in the criminal world of dog fighting. Weigner was murdered during a 2006 home invasion, when he was tied up and shot in the leg then allowed to bleed to death. At the time, authorities were investigating a possible link between Townsend, Weigner, and former NFL star Michael Vick.
When arrested by the SIU, Townsend was in possession of $78,000 in cash and over $4,000 more was found in his home, where investigators also seized 12 firearms, surveillance equipment, illegal and prescription drugs including methamphetamine and Xanax. Several of the guns were loaded and easily accessible. One had a high powered scope. ATF agents were called to the scene to remove a fragmentation grenade, which was stored in an ice chest on the front porch.
Montgomery County Animal Control seized numerous fighting roosters and Pit Bulls from Townsend’s residence.
Investigators reported the discovery of evidence Townsend shipped illegal drugs to New York, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, and that money was shipped back to Texas, in addition to links to East Coast street gangs and drug dealers in Montgomery and surrounding counties.
In November of 2008, Townsend was released on nearly $300,000 bond with the help of three co-signers. On January 11, 2008, he failed to appear at a scheduled court hearing and 4A Bail Bonds realized Townsend was gone. Despite offering a $10,000 reward, the bonding company was unable to locate Townsend. The closest they came to the truth was probably when they reportedly heard rumors Townsend fled to Mexico, which is where he was ultimately found.
From 2006 to present, agencies involved in investigating Townsend included the MCSO, FBI (Beaumont office), Liberty County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft Division, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Conroe DPS Narcotics Division and the Montgomery County SWAT team.
Zenor said he received a call around 9 a.m. on Wednesday saying Townsend was back in Texas. By 2 p.m. the MCSO SWAT Alpha Team was en route to Laredo where they arrived late that night. At 6 a.m. on Thursday, they took custody of Townsend at the Webb County Jail and headed back to Conroe. At 12:47 p.m., Townsend was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on six warrants for felony bond forfeiture.
Jamie Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.