According to figures provided by the Governor’s office, the Houston region has over 20,000 gang members. Officials say in 2016, Harris County’s violent crime rate was up by over 10%.
So why are those numbers so high? Governor Abbott says there’s a lot of illegal activity that draws gangs to Houston.
“Some drivers of that have dealt with drug trafficking, human trafficking, additional MS-13 members,”explains Abbott. “It’s just been a spot that gang members have been coming to from across the globe.”
To get a handle on those numbers, Governor Abbott has announced some new initiatives for Houston. He’s providing a $500,000 grant along with additional personnel from DPS and the Texas Rangers.
Abbott says they’re also looking for tips from the public. He stresses the people they’re targeting are violent offenders and they’re not trying to round up undocumented immigrants.
“It’s the type of crime where we’re not going to be relying on a tip of some person out there who may be here illegally but instead is going to be the aggregation of information that’s put together by law enforcement resources,” says Abbott.
As part of his effort, the governor also wants to set up a 24-hour Tactical Operations Center in Houston that specifically targets gang crimes.