A new report projects gang threats in East Texas will remain high during the coming year. Much of the threat comes from gangs that work directly with Mexican cartels, according to the report.
The Texas Department of Public Safety released the 2014 Texas Gang Threat Assessment, an annual overview that recognizes gang activity across the state.
There are more than 100,000 gang members across the state and though their trends and characteristics have not changed much over the past year, threats remain high. One map shown in the report outlines where gang activity is most concentrated. Smith, Gregg, and Harrison counties are all considered areas of high gang activity.
“They’re gangs that are involved and operate in criminal activity. And, of course, we deal with those quite regularly,” Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano said.
In another chart, gangs are broken down into three separate tiers. Tier One represents the most threatening gangs while Tier Three is less threatening. In East Texas we see three Tier One gangs, seven Tier Two gangs and two Tier Three gangs.
The report said gangs like the Solid Wood Soldiers are working with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, manufacturing methamphetamine from a source in Houston and distributing it in East Texas communities.
In March 2013 seven suspects were arrested as part of a round-up operation. Another five were also brought in during that year. All 12 were for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, right here in East Texas.
So what does all of this mean for you and your community? Well, this report said one of the most serious issues both law enforcement and our communities face is those relationships developing between gangs and Mexican cartels. This leads not only to drug trafficking, but also human trafficking and violent crime.
Another chart shows the offense record for some gang members in Texas prisons. The largest offense is robbery at 25 percent, then burglary and assault, each at 15 percent, followed by homicide at 13 percent.
The report also cites a concern for juvenile gang involvement because those behaviors can then spread through our schools.
“The best way to combat that is through intelligence gathering and then sharing that information with other law enforcement agencies,” Cerliano said.
Several agencies work together each year to compile this information. The report said officials expect cartels to try to expand their ties with Texas gangs during the coming year. Task forces are present in many counties including Smith and Gregg to try to combat gang threats and activity.
Friday, August 22 2014 3:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:11:37 GMT
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