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Are Gangs Coming Across Border Making It To Central Texas?

Updated: Tuesday, August 19 2014, 03:24 PM CDT

In the showdown at the border, the first wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border.

They're deployed as part of the up to one thousand troops called up by Governor Rick Perry last month. Part of their task is trying to stop gangs, drugs and criminals from getting into the country.

But are the efforts working and are any of them making it to Central Texas?

At a Texas House Homeland Security Committee hearing the Department of Public safety director testified, "In June and July Border Patrol arrested 63 MS-13 members."

While MS-13 doesn't have a stronghold on the city of Austin, gang members from other countries setting up shop in Central Texas isn't a farfetched idea.

"I think any city in the United States is affected one way or another by the insurgence of people affiliated with some of the Mexican drug cartels," said Austin Police Department Sargent Robert Hawkins.

Hawkins says there are about 3,000 documented gang members in the city.

"Gangs do infiltrate all areas of society because of the economics of it," said Hawkins.

They represent around 100 different gangs -- some offshoots from larger groups.

"Some of them are organized gang members belonging to specific gangs they are identified by name, some are affiliated with the drug trafficking organizations, but there are some that come across," said Hawkins.

According to the Texas Gang Threat Assessment released by the Texas Department of Public Safety many of the top tier gangs, ones that pose the greatest threat on a statewide scale, can be found in Austin.

The report documents areas that have a concentration of gang activity in the state, and shows the I-35 corridor is a hot spot.

"We have to try and stay one step ahead," said Hawkins.

While Austin hasn't seen the level of gang violence as other large metropolitan areas, officers have seen a big focus on the drug trade and property crimes.

According to DPS report the top crimes committed are robbery, burglary, drugs and assault.

Austin police have many different programs to try and prevent people from joining gangs.

In many cases it has been very successful.

By Adam Racusin

Are Gangs Coming Across Border Making It To Central Texas?


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