A pair of cattle rustlers were nabbed by officers of the Missouri Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Elijah Long, 20, of La Russell, and Tracey Coates, Jr., 19, of Springfield, are accused of stealing 48 head of cattle. The thefts occurred in Lawrence County between the months of May and September 2009.
Coates and Long have each been charged with eight counts of theft/stealing of livestock animals and are scheduled to appear in Lawrence County court on Oct. 1.
The estimated value of the livestock allegedly taken by Coates and Long is approximately $27,000.
According to Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay, the cattle had been taken to a stockyard in Springfield and sold.
Captain Luke Vislay, director of the Division of Drug and Crime Control (DDCC), said the Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force remains dedicated to assisting law enforcement agencies with investigations of agriculture-related crimes, which continue to impact the cattle industry and Missouri farming communities.
This month, Governor Jay Nixon announced that the Highway Patrol was awarded a competitive grant of more than $3.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to establish a Rural Crimes Task Force.
The grant will fund 10 criminal investigators, two criminal analysts, a part-time administrator and overtime for local police agencies that partner with the Patrol to fight crimes in rural areas.
These enforcement resources will assist in the mission of the Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force, which Governor Nixon expanded on Aug. 20, citing an increasing number of crimes being committed against farmers and their property.