At this very minute, there are at least 16 sex offenders in East Texas not where they're supposed to be.
Police have lost track of them. And that's only in parts of two counties.
Officers made the discovery during surprise visits to sex offenders' homes in Van Zandt and Kaufman Counties. They were looking in on 71 registered sex offenders in all, checking to see if the offenders were living and working where they said they were.
Approximately 1 out of 4 of the sex offenders were breaking the law.
Four men in Van Zandt County are convicted of sexually assaulting children: Billy Besherse, Jason Ladd, Timothy Massey, and James Combs. Three of them have fallen off the radar screen of law enforcement. One was caught with pornography.
In Kaufman County, authorities had lost track of 13 registered sex offenders -- all their victims children -- Jacob Juarez, David Rodriguez, Moises Rodriguez, Troy Chupik, Bobby Herron, Shane Harris, Joseph Fairfield, Omar Guajardo, Jackie Easley, Roland Holmes, Thomas Provence, Omar Reyes, and Mark Snedden. The sheriff's department arrested one of the offenders today.
The disturbing truth of all these missing sex offenders was discovered last night within just a few hours. Sixty police officers, constables, sheriff's deputies, Texas rangers and troopers launched a coordinated effort to track down the sex offenders.
"We're not going to cut any slack," Van Zandt County Sheriff Pat Burnett said. "This is a national epidemic. And we've seen several young girls kidnapped and killed by registered sex offenders. And we're trying to not let that ever happen in this county."
KLTV followed the man in charge of keeping track of Van Zandt County's 56 registered sex offenders. Deputy Charly Barton asked each offender a series of questions.
"Who he was, that he was living here, who was living with him, where he worked at, checked the vehicle that he drived, and stuff like that."
The third home we went to, the sex offender had moved about a month ago. His relatives next door said they had no idea where.
"He'll probably be sent back to prison for something as easy as telling us where he's living," Barton said.
Considering the high probability of sex offenders' re-offending, authorities say one missing offender is one too many.
Failing to comply as a registered sex offender is a 3rd-degree felony. If found guilty, all 17 of the noncompliant offenders could face up to 20 years in prison.
To find out if a sex offender lives near you, go to the Texas DPS Sex Offender Database.