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DPS Report Reveals Details on Gang Activity in Texas

Annual gang threat assessment highlights most significant gangs and their activity in Texas.

The annual Texas Gang Threat Assessment provides detailed information on the gangs that operate in Texas.

This year’s report found that Tango Blast was the state’s most significant gang threat, followed by the Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia and Barrio Azteca. Of the gang members in prison, more than half are serving a sentence for a violent crime, including robbery, homicide and assault or teroristic threat.

Summer Blackwell with the Department of Public Safety said gangs have evolved to be a major player in illegal activity.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed through the years is that Texas gangs are becoming more in line with, or working alongside, with the Mexican drug cartels to help smuggle, whether it be drugs, cash, weapons or people, across the border,” she said.

Texan gangs find that being involved in human trafficking can be very lucrative.

“One of the things associated with these types of operations is sex trafficking and compelled prostitution of adults and minors,” Blackwell said. “And one of the reasons that gangs may prefer this type of criminal activity is because it creates large and renewable profit sources, and they consider it a low-risk crime.”

Gang activity also thrives in Houston because of its proximity to the border. El Paso state representative Joe Pickett, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, said Houston gangs often have ties to cartels in Mexico as well as other gangs in the U.S.

“There may be people who don’t realize that the gangs are amongst us, and when the police department or sheriff’s busts a sex trafficking ring, there’s a good chance that that is run by a gang in Houston, who has connections either with the cartel in Mexico, or gangs throughout the Southwest, Midwest, California,” he said.

Gang offshoots are also a problem in Houston. Sargeant JC Wood with the Houston Police Department’s Gang Division said these groups are called cliques.

“Probably the largest criminal street gang in Houston is the Houstone Hispanic gang, what they refer to as Tango Blast Houstone,” Wood said. “But we’ve got other Hispanic gangs that are spread all over Houston as well. The clique itself may have several members that belong to different gangs, but they come together because they go to school together, or they grew up at the same apartment complex or something like that.”

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