Officials working to find evidence on “suspicious package” found at local plant

Published 2:02 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

PORT NECHES — Officials say it could take weeks or months to determine who was responsible for placing a suspicious package in the mailbox of a local plant, causing a multi-agency response that blocked traffic for hours.

At approximately 6:30 a.m. Friday, an employee of Air Liquide on Park Road in Port Neches opened a mailbox near the street and discovered a package made to look like an explosive device, according to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Crystal Holmes.

The package was clear in nature.

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“(It) was designed as such to cause someone alarm if they looked at it, because it did appear at first glance as if it was an explosive device,” Holmes said. “The device was checked by the Bay Area Regional Bomb Squad and found not to be an explosive. It was just objects placed into a bag along with items that looked like it could possibly be wires.”

That was one of the multiple agencies called to the scene after the package was discovered. Holmes said the employee followed protocol and left the item in the mailbox to alert authorities.

The Port Neches Fire Department, headquartered across the street from Air Liquide, was first on scene.

“The Port Neches Fire Department began shutting the roadway down and shutting down the part of the plant that the mailbox was close to and ensuring there was no traffic, whether employees or citizens, coming through the area.”

The mailbox in which the package was found is accessible to the public and used by the United States Postal Service. (Monique Batson/The News)

Fire Chief Eloy Vega said in a situation such as that one, procedure is to act as if the threat is real.

“In a situation like that, if there is an unknown, we treat the unknown as a worst case scenario,” he said. “At times when there is a situation like that, although there is an inconvenience or disruption, we take all necessary precautions for the traveling public. We take these actions with the best interest of the public in mind. We’re prompt about processing the scene because we know the roadways must reopen.”

In addition to PNFD, the Port Neches Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, FBI, ATF, Bay Area Regional Bomb Squad and the Beaumont Independent School District’s bomb dog were called to the scene.

“Obviously this device was a hoax, but we can never, ever let our guard down,” Holmes said. “We treat each incident as if it is a threat until we know that it’s not.”

The scene was cleared at approximately noon.


Holmes said the mailbox in question was not checked Thursday, therefore authorities must narrow down the timeline in which the package was inserted into the box.

In addition, they are working with the FBI and ATF to determine if fingerprints or DNA can be taken from the package.

While it is currently unknown if Air Liquide has on-property surveillance cameras, Holmes said any video footage from neighboring establishments would be collected.

The BISD K-9 did not detect explosives, and the bomb squad removed the package from the mailbox. But, Holmes said, the package could contain chemicals not recognizable to the naked eye.

If a suspect or suspects is found, potential punishment would vary as placing an explosive device in a federal mailbox is a federal offense. Factors such as the suspect’s criminal history could be used in the determination.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS. Information is anonymous and could lead to a cash reward.