AUSTIN – Active Gang activity is a very real risk to public safety in Texas with the real threat being increased criminal activity and the recruiting of more young people into their violent folds.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) released its updated Texas Gang Threat Assessment, which was developed to provide a broad overview of gang activity in the state of Texas.
The annual report is an eyeopener because it show the growth of gangs and the high concentration of gang activity going on in areas across the state.
“Gang violence and crime are a chief threat to public safety in Texas, and protecting our communities from these criminals remains a top priority,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This assessment provides detailed information about the gangs operating in our state, which will enhance the ability of law enforcement to combat these dangerous organizations and their associates.”
According to the report, gang activity remains widespread throughout all regions of Texas. While the greatest concentrations of gang activity tend to be in larger metropolitan areas, gang members are also present in suburban areas, smaller cities, and rural areas.
It is also prevalent in the Texas counties adjacent to Mexico and along the key smuggling corridors, since Texas-based gangs are used for cross-border smuggling and trafficking in the state.
The Texas Gang Threat Assessment was developed according to statute, which requires an annual report to be submitted to the governor and Texas Legislature assessing the threat posed by statewide criminal gangs. The report is based on the collaboration between multiple law enforcement and criminal justice agencies across the state and nation, whose contributions were essential in creating this comprehensive overview of gang activity in Texas.
More than 4,600 gangs have been identified in Texas, though it is unknown how many of these are currently active.
These range from small gangs composed of few members with limited geographic reach to large gangs with thousands of members active throughout Texas and elsewhere.
Texas-based gangs, gang members and their associates are active in both human smuggling and human trafficking, which often includes sex trafficking and compelling prostitution of adult and minor victims. Many gangs in Texas continue to work with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs, weapons, people and cash across the border.
The relationships between some gangs and cartels have evolved over the past year due in part to volatility and changes in cartel structures and relationships in Mexico.
According to the report, Gangs will continue to operate in human trafficking due to the potential for large and renewable profits and the assumed low risk of detection by law enforcement.
The state report divides gang into six different regions that demonstrate where some of the hotbeds of activity are going on. Of those areas, the report notes that Region 1, Region 2 and Region 6 have great concentrations of activity.
In Region 1, the most significant Gangs are: Tango Blast (D-Town, Foritos), Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, and Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
It includes the counties in northeastern Texas, with Dallas-Fort Worth representing the most densely populated area. Tango Blast maintains a heavy presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, and is largely concentrated in the central and western counties in the region.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is active in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Law enforcement agencies around the region have reported the presence of other gangs such as the Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia, Crips (various cliques), Bloods (various cliques), Sureño 13, Aryan Circle, Latin Kings, and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).
In Region 2, the most significant Gangs are: Tango Blast (Houstone), Texas Mexican Mafia, and Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
It is primarily composed of counties in the eastern and southeastern portion of Texas, including the metropolitan areas of Houston, Beaumont, and Bryan-College Station.
The Houston area Tango Blast clique, the Houstone, is the largest gang in Houston and the surrounding areas, followed by the Texas Mexican Mafia.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is significant due to its strong presence throughout the entire region.
Other gangs reported by law enforcement in Region 2 are the Texas Syndicate, Crips (various cliques), Bloods (various cliques), Bandidos, Sureño 13, Aryan Circle, Latin Kings, the Gangster Disciples, and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).
In Region 6, the most significant Gangs are : the Texas Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, Tango Blast (ATX) and Tango clique (Orejones)
Region 6 is made up of central Texas and several counties to the southeast, which are home to a few of the state’s most established gangs.
The most significant gangs are Texas Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, and Tango Blast Austin (ATX) and Tango clique San Antonio (Orejones).
Other significant gangs found in this region include the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, Crips (various cliques), Bloods (various cliques), Bandidos, Hermandad de Pistoleros Latinos, Sureño 13, Aryan Circle, Latin Kings, and Gangster Disciples.
“Gangs represent one of the top organized-crime threats to public safety,” said Sen. Craig Estes, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security. “The Texas Gang Threat Assessment will serve as a critical tool to assist law enforcement agencies in developing and executing strategies to protect Texans, and I applaud the Texas Department of Public Safety for its efforts in combating this critical threat.”
YOUTH RACE / RECRUITING & GANGS
Many large gangs have membership based along racial lines.
Examples of predominantly white gangs include the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Aryan Circle; predominantly Hispanic gangs include the Texas Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate; and predominantly African-American gangs include the Gangster Disciples, the Bloods, and the Crips.
This aspect of gang organization is often described as a product of prison, where inmates may identify with others of their own race. Many of these gangs officially cite race as a reason for having organized, and some profess racial superiority over others.
While individual members of these gangs may hold racial bias or prejudice, the gangs themselves often engage in business arrangements with gangs of another race when it is mutually convenient and profitable.
Gangs continue to recruit members in prisons, in schools, on the Internet, from smaller gangs, and from within their own families.
The prison system and county jails continue to offer opportunities for the recruitment of inmates, who may join prison gangs for protection while serving time behind bars. Several prison gangs recruit for the sole purpose of having a majority population in order to defend against other gangs.
Once members are recruited, most gangs require them to serve the gang for life, though other gangs allow members to leave after being released from prison. Some members of prison gangs have encouraged their children not to follow in their footsteps, but to instead join gangs with looser affiliation rules, such as Tango Blast.
Some gangs in Texas are recruiting juveniles in neighborhoods and schools, often making promises of money, fame, and influence, while promising them that they will receive a minimal sentence if they are arrested and charged with an offense. Juvenile gang activity appears to occur disproportionately along the Texas–Mexico border.
For example, the 14 Texas counties that are adjacent to Mexico represent approximately 9.7 percent of the Texas population, yet in 2013, these counties accounted for 18.9 percent of felony referrals of juveniles with confirmed gang affiliation, and 13 percent of other referrals of juveniles with confirmed gang affiliation.
“The most effective tool in fighting any threat is understanding the enemy. This intelligence report amasses information about gang trends and their relationships that is critical to effectively targeting and disrupting these criminal organizations,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.