Streets Safer? Alleged East Texas Gang Indicted

After a 15 month investigation, East Texas authorities believe they've brought down the Northeast Tyler gang, called the "East Side Locos." The gang is allegedly responsible for violent crimes in East Texas including attempted murders and illegal drug distribution.

"If there are some wannabe gang members now that the East Side Locos are gone," says Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle. "We've got news for them."

That's a warning from Tyler's Police Chief to East Texas gangs following the groundbreaking racketeering indictment of the East Side Locos gang.

"This gang was allegedly involved in criminal activities including racketeering, attempted murder, extortion, burglaries thefts, trafficking of stolen fire arms, distribution of narcotics and money laundering," says Matthew Orwig, U.S. Attorney Eastern District.

Federal and local authorities say the East Side Locos committed their violent crimes to protect their turf, and to intimidate rival gangs. But that's apparently ended, now that 13 of the 14 suspected East Side Locos are off the streets.

"This will have a tremendous impact," says Swindle. "The East Side Locos have been the most violent gang we have been investigating since the mid 90's."

The gang, which is primarily Hispanic, but initiates Asian, African American and Caucasian, operates in a hierarchy according to the indictment. The Council is at the top, followed by the Old Gangsters and initiates are the Peewees. Evidence of their alleged violence dates back to '97.

"Two shootings approximately 3 hours apart on 4/1/1997 were allegedly a result of the gangs activities," says Orwig. "They resulted in the death of one East Side

By 1999, a turf war was on according to investigators between the East Side Locos and the Northside Crips or el Norte where innocent East Texans were injured.

13 of the 14 alleged East Side Locos are being detained. They are scheduled to be back in federal court next Tuesday, March 11th when the judge will set their bond on the 14 count racketeering indictment.

Dana Dixon, reporting