FBI, ATF raid in southwest Houston to continue into Monday

Monday, August 21, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Albans Road near Rice Village, the typical foot traffic on a Sunday afternoon involves neighbors walking their dogs. This weekend, it was a small army of armed federal agents descending on at least one home in the 2000 block.

The FBI and ATF were involved in the operation, with support from HPD and the fire department which supplied a hazmat truck.

An FBI spokesperson released this statement: "The FBI, HPD, and ATF are lawfully present conducting law enforcement operations in southwest Houston, Texas in the interest of public safety. Since the matter is ongoing, we are unable to provide additional details at this time." The operations may involve more than one house on the block.

"It was like SWAT, bomb squad, decon unit, and ATF. So if there's a federal agency, they're here," said Mike Leath, who lives nearby.

Neighbors gathered in the heat, looking at the operation unfold from a distance. For some, it was a repeat performance of what happened, they said, in the same house in 2013.

"There were federal agents, helicopters overhead and men in hazmat suits that time around," said Therese Odell, who's lived in the neighborhood for more than ten years.

In that case, a house on Albans was one of several raided in a coordinated operation on the same day. A home in Memorial was searched, another in Bryan, and at least one more in Michigan, all owned by the same person.

The owner's son, in his early 20s at the time, was arrested and pleaded guilty the following year to a misdemeanor federal charge of not conforming to storage of explosive materials. He paid nearly $160,000 in restitution, and according to a court document, is required to report annually to the court. When contacted this evening, his attorney in that case said he could not comment on the current operation.

Saturday afternoon, a remote-controlled robotic device - the kind associated with detecting weapons and explosives - could be seen going into one house. Large unmarked trucks were brought in, and FBI evidence technicians could be seen carrying boxes from the search area.

Later in the evening, yellow crime tape was placed on the corners of the block. No one other than residents is allowed to come and go. There will be a police presence overnight. An FBI spokesperson said agents will continue their work through the evening and into tomorrow.

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