Six Benavides volunteer firefighters including two junveniles were charged with arson and in engaging in organized criminal activity last week in connection to an incident that occurred in December involving the burning of a barn, officials with the Duval County Sheriff's Department have confirmed.
Arrested on Jan. 15 were Tracy Renee Casas, 21; Mauro Garcia, 20, of Alice; and Amado Garcia IV, 22, of Freer. Israel Cavazos, 34, of Benavides was arrested on Jan. 17, reports show.
Officials said the juveniles were detained, taken to the county juvenile detention center, and were released into the custody of their parents.
The sequence of events, which led to the arrests began on Sunday, Dec. 20 about 12:20 a.m., when a woman called 9-1-1 to report a fire was in progress on a roadside located about three miles north of Benavides. Fire officials and police responded to the vicinity, but were unable to find any sign of a fire, reports show.
Three hours later, a woman called and reported a structure was on fire approximately three miles south off of Highway 339.
Fire officials and deputies arrived at the site and found a barn in flames, which burned to the ground. Deputies were asked to assist in helping to round up five horses that had escaped from the barn, and some were injured while running loose, say reports.
Discovered at the scene were two sets of suspicious shoe prints, which trailed all the way to the highway, officials said.
Investigators determined from subpoenaed phone records that the same caller made the two early morning emergency calls.
Sheriff Romeo Ramirez said, " All of the individuals were cooperative, and gave confessions."
They were taken to the county jail and were released after each posted surety bonds totaling $50,000.
Sgt. Rammy Perez and Deputy Ricardo Carrillo Jr. led the investigation.