The Texas Department of Public Safety released its annual report on criminal gang activity in Texas this week.
This year’s Texas Gang Threat Assessment found that gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety. Central Texas is home to some of the most established gangs in the state. The report estimates that with more than 4,600 gangs, overall gang membership in this state is more than 100,000.
DPS says the gangs that present the greatest threat to public safety, "Tier 1 gangs," are Tango Blast, Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia and Barrio Azteca. Tango Blast and affiliated groups are believed to have membership exceeding 8,200. DPS Region 6, which is made up of Central Texas and several other counties to the southeast, is home to Texas Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, Tango Blast Austin and Tango clique San Antonio.
DPS is especially concerned with the evolving relationships between gangs. They say traditional rivalries between some groups are deteriorating as they take advantage of opportunities to work together to achieve common criminal goals. Many Texas gangs work with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs, weapons, cash and people across the border. In addition, Texas-based gangs and their associates are active in both human smuggling and human trafficking, which often includes sex trafficking.
The reports says gangs are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in the state. Incarceration records from Tier 1 and Tier 2 gang members show that many of them are serving time for a violent crime. Twenty-five percent are serving for robbery, 13 percent for homicide, 15 percent for assault/terroristic threat, 15 percent for drug-related offenses and 15 percent for burglary/larceny.
DPS says they expect overall gang threat in Texas will remain high in the coming year.