Arrests Made In Massive Apartment Check Thefts

"Operation Beacon" is a multi-agency investigation involving local, state, and federal authorities that began with a gang-related shooting here in Houston last year.

This is Capt Dale Brown, head of the Houston Police Department's Gang division.

"During 2011, there was a shooting of a 14 year old individual in a park in Northeast Houston. That caused us to initiate what we call a geographic gang initiative. But to take it further, particularly based on tips that we received over the website, that there was a greater problem with ongoing gang related criminal activity."

That involved apartment complex drop boxes in various counties in and around Houston.

"There were some areas that were more heavily impacted than others, that had drop boxes where people left rent and unfortunately, many people used money orders. If theres a lesson to be learned here for the citizen out there in an apartment project is when you pay your rent, hand it to somebody."

Capt Dale Brown
HPD Gang division Capt Dale Brown addresses media as Homeland Security Special Agent Andre Watson, Harris County DA Pat Lykos and HPD Asst Chief Martha Montalvo listen.

It's estimated that between $1 & 5 million were stolen from these drop boxes. Harris County DA Pat Lykos says 40 are in custody but the investigation will most likely lead to more arrests.

"What this is is an example of trans-national criminal organizations affiliating with local gangs, and also multi-state gangs."

Lykos says the operation is indicative of what is happening around the country, and she adds what they're developing is a vaccine to eradicate the operation.

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