TERRELL, Texas — A Terrell man, and recently resigned local volunteer firefighter, was arrested on child pornography charges yesterday, stemming from a multi-jurisdictional investigation out of Smith County.
25-year-old Silas Austin Franks, of Terrell, Texas, was arrested yesterday by the Smith County Sheriff's Office and charged with possession with intent to promote child pornography, a second-degree felony. He is being held at the Smith County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
The investigation into Franks began October 8, 2019, when the Smith County Sheriff's Office received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) concerning a possible child pornography case, according to a press release from the Smith County Sheriff's Office.
"The information provided by NCMEC contained numerous photos of child pornography depicting victims of a very young age," stated the release.
Smith County investigators obtained subpoenas for social media sites, cell phone and internet service providers, and identified Franks based on that information.
Franks, according to investigators who obtained search warrants, utilized an IP address of the Red Springs Fire Department to receive several thousand photos, which depicted pornographic images of young children, and sexual chat logs on Snapchat.
An arrest warrant affidavit was presented to 7th State District Court Judge Kerry Russell who issued an arrest warrant for Franks on December 5, 2019, on a charge for possession with intent to promote child pornography. He was arrested on December 6, 2019, and booked into the Smith County Jail.
Franks was an employee of the Smith County Emergency Services District 2 and was a volunteer firefighter with the Ables Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Kaufman County.
"Smith County Investigators received full cooperation and assistance from members of Smith County Emergency Services District 2," stated the release.
inForney.com requested Franks current status with the Ables Springs Volunteer Fire Department on Friday morning, December 7, 2019. A response had not been received at the time of press however, following that request, photos and contact information for Franks on the department's website were removed.
On December 9, 2019, Ables Springs Volunteer Fire Department Board President Peter Esposito responded to inForney.com's request for additional information. According to departmental records supplied by Esposito, Franks joined the Ables Springs VFD from a Smith County fire department on August 10, 2018, was removed as a department officer on April 24, 2019, last signed in for training on May 19, 2019, and his formal letter of resignation was accepted on October 23, 2019.
During his time with the Ables Springs VFD, he responded to 45 emergency service calls of 312 dispatched, according to Esposito.
Smith County described the investigation as multi-jurisdictional. A request has been made to determine if additional charges are pending against Franks and, if so, if any are pending in Kaufman County.