Gangs on the border

LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - The Texas Department of Public Safety has released the 2015 Texas gang threat assessment.

The report estimates that current gang membership across the state may exceed 100,000 people.

Transnational gangs increased significantly in 2014.

That coincides with the increase of illegal immigrants coming from countries other than Mexico.

Laredo police say the gateway city do see gang activity, but they are mostly just passing through.

Law enforcement agencies in Texas have identified more than 56 hundred gangs statewide in 2014.

According the Texas Department of Public Safety it is unknown how many of these are currently active.

Laredo Police Department says it's common to see gang activity in Laredo due to the location on the border.

But Laredo is not alone.

"It is here as it is in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas,"said Baeza.

Investigator Joe Baeza with the Laredo Police Department says gangs in Laredo are mostly connected with other countries.

Transnational gangs frequently work in collaboration with Mexican cartels to help facilitate the trafficking of drugs, money, and people.

"It's drug trade, whether illegal immigration I'll even say as far as exploitation of children. All these are different things. They have their networks," said Baeza.

The southern counties of Texas most significant gangs for 2015 are identified as the tango cliques of the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi, Texas syndicate, and the Texas Mexican mafia.

"Drugs are going to somewhere, these people are receiving the drugs and have to make distribution and collect the proceeds, then these proceeds are going back towards Mexico," said Baeza

Baeza says local law enforcement is very aware of who these gangs and who the members are, even says hourly reports are made on gang activity in Laredo.

Baeza says gang member mostly pass through Laredo- since they know they wouldn't be able to blend in.

"In Laredo they stick out like a sore thumb, it's kind of hard to miss a guy that has a number 13 on their forehead and mistake him just for a guy who is a big fan of tattoos and the number 13," said Baeza.

Laredo P.D. says every law enforcement in Laredo is in constant communication about gang activity.

"It's our mission for the safety and security for the city we love to make sure we keep a vigilant eye on these situations as they rise," said Baeza.

Approximately 15 percent of the 5,600 gangs identified have a membership level of at least 11 persons.

Mara Salvatrucha has emerged as a top tier gang threat in Texas for 2015.

The report is based on the collaboration between multiple law enforcement and criminal justice agencies across the state and nation.

From 2007 to 2014 there has been in overall crime reduction of 27 percent in the city.


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