Dallas Task Force Helps Put Violent Criminals Behind Bars

Two Texas men who committed violent jewelry store robberies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were recently sentenced to lengthy prison terms thanks to an FBI-led task force that helped bring them to justice. The case is a classic example of local and federal law enforcement officers working together to make their communities safer.

For a seven-month period between 2013 and 2014, Michael Demon Jackson and Mark D. Whitfield robbed numerous jewelry stores at gunpoint, in part to feed their heroin habits. Last May, after pleading guilty to the crimes, Jackson was sentenced to 594 months in federal prison, just shy of 50 years. In June, Whitfield received a 309-month prison term.

“Jackson had a previous murder conviction, and the judge took that into consideration,” said FBI Special Agent Gil Balli, who supervises the Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force that investigated the case. The fact that both men were charged federally resulted in stiffer sentences and no chance of parole.

“Being able to bring federal charges in violent criminal cases is one of the strengths of the task force,” Balli said. Established two years ago, the task force consists of FBI agents and officers from the Dallas Police Department and other local police departments from Garland and Carrollton, Texas. When necessary, the task force partners with other state and federal agencies.

“Our mission,” Balli said, “is to target criminal groups and individuals, including fugitives, who commit the worst violent crimes in our area.”

Balli receives daily updates about robberies that have occurred in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the previous 24 hours. He consults with Dallas Police Department officials and other task force members about which crimes might rise to the level of task force involvement. “We all exchange intelligence on a daily basis,” he said, adding, “We are looking at the most violent offenders in our communities, who often commit serial robberies.”

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