Saturday, April 19, 2014

Texas Prison Gangs Remain the Greatest Threat to Texans According to New DPS Report


By Lance Lowry

Austin, Texas -  Texas prison gangs pose the greatest threat to Texans according to a new report entitled Texas Gang Threat Assessment, produced by the Joint Crime Information Center Intelligence & Counterterrorism Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
 
According to the report, gang membership in Texas may exceed over 100,000 members between the 4,600 gangs identified by the Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) Tactical Operations Center in Houston. 
 
Tango Blast and Tango cliques, Texas Syndicate, Texas Mexican Mafia, and Barrio Azteca are listed as Tier 1 gangs in Texas.  According to the DPS report, "these four Tier 1 gangs continue to pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, their transnational activity, number of members, high levels of criminal activity, and other significant factors."10  The Department of Public Safety ranks the Tier 1 Gangs as the highest level of threat.   

The DPS report cited, "Tango Blast and Tango cliques remain the greatest statewide gang threat, and are increasing in significance compared to other gangs. The gang continues to grow in membership both inside and outside the Texas prison system. Additionally the unique clique structure provides greater networking opportunities for criminal activity." 10

 
 

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and county jails continue to offer opportunities for the recruitment of inmates, who may join prison gangs for protection while serving time behind bars.  According to the DPS report "Several prison gangs recruit for the sole purpose of having a majority population in order to defend against other gangs. Once members are recruited, most gangs require them to serve the gang for life, though other gangs allow members to leave after being released from prison."  10

 
 

TANGO BLAST #1 Threat

 


 


Tangos were first established in the 1990's by inmates from Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin while serving time in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. These original Tangos collectively came to be known as the Four Horsemen and still band together for protection in the correctional setting.  The original founding groups are known as the Four Horsemen or "Puro Tango Blast."  The origins of "Blast" refers to the individual representing his tango or hometown.  10

DPS estimates there are 8,200 Tango members involved in the Tango gangs in Texas and ranks this gang as the top threat in Texas.  Some estimations suggest there are as many as 14,000 members involved with the Tango Blast in prison and on the streets. 


 


 

 
While in the past gangs have competed for turf and profits, the report from DPS notes, that gangs maybe joining forces.  According to DPS the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) members operated a drug ring with members of Houstone Tango Blast, in association with a Mexican cartel. Confirmed Crip members were also involved in criminal activity with the Houstone Tango Blast. 10
 
 
 


 
 
 
Texas Syndicate #2 Threat

The Texas Syndicate (TS) is a violent prison gang that originated in the California penal system over 40 years ago.  The gang was formed by Hispanic inmates from Texas for protection from California based prison gangs. 

The Texas Syndicate moved into Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prisons and onto the streets, often working with Mexican cartels such as Los Zetas.  Recent law enforcement investigations targeting the gang have resulted in the arrest of high-ranking members, dismantling top leadership positions within each of TS’s regional hierarchies and have created a vacuum of leadership and power as Tango Gangs continue to pick up the slack.  10

Currently the Texas Department of Public safety estimates their are over 4,400 Texas Syndicate members operating in Texas. 
 


 

Mexican Mafia (MM ) #3 Threat

 

The Mexican Mafia was formed in the California prison system in 1957 by members of 13 different Los Angeles street gangs.  The gang saw a rise in membership in the 80's, after the Texas prison system did away with building tenders, which maintained control of the Texas prison system.

The Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) failed to professionalize their correctional staff with a sufficient number of professionals to maintain order in the prison system, which resulted in the rise of prison gangs.  Inmates fearing for their safety joined the prison gangs after a vacuum in power was left by the state ending the building tender system, also known as "turn keys."  The building tenders were inmates that were given authority over other inmates in the prison system, and maintained the order of the facilities, due to the state's lack of proper funding for the prison system. 

Currently the Texas Department of Public Safety estimates their are over 5,500 Mexican Mafia operating in Texas.  10


 
 
Barrio Azteca (BA) #4 Threat
 
Barrio Azteca was founded in the 80's by street gang members from El Paso at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas.   The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates there are over 2,000 members operating in the state.
 
Barrio Azteca has practiced extorting “quota,” or taxes, on non-BA drug dealers who sold illegal narcotics in El Paso and the greater West Texas and Eastern New Mexico area. 7
 
The Barrio Azteca is known for their violence and contract killings in Northern Mexico as they've worked with the Juarez Drug Cartel to fight of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. 

On May 13, 2010, the Barrio Azteca gang was involved in the killing of two US Consulate employees and an El Paso County correctional officer who were gunned down in a vehicle in Juerez, just across the US border from el Paso.  Arthur Redelfs, an El Paso correctional Officer, was driving the vehicle with his wife who worked at the US Consulate inside and one of her coworkers while leaving a party in Juerez, Mexico. 8
 
The hit on the El Paso correctional officer and the US Consulate workers has brought the powers of the US Government down on the Barrio Azteca, which has been weakened by enhanced prosecution.  The Sureños gang have filled a vacuum of power left by the Barrio Azteca's operations in El Paso.  
 
According to the DPS report "Barrio Azteca (BA) has lost much of its support in the last year due to the deteriorating influence of the Juarez Cartel. In addition, law enforcement efforts have been successful in targeting the gang.  Although predominantly located in El Paso and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, arrests of BA members have been active in Wichita Falls and Houston." 9
 
 
Outlook on future Gang Activity and Strategies
 
According to the DPS report, "Mexican drug cartels will fight to maintain or increase their share of the lucrative drug and human smuggling markets, Texas-based gangs will continue to play an essential role in supporting cartel operations on both sides of the border, and the cartels will likely seek to expand their existing networks in Texas by leveraging the gangs. We expect the relationships between individual gangs and cartels to remain fluid, and possibly adapt and evolve in response to changes in the cartel landscape in Mexico."10
 
With marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington State, its estimated the Mexican drug cartels have taken a $2.797 billion loss. 11 According to Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, five additional states are expected to follow Colorado and Washington's lead by legalizing the recreational use of the drug this next year.
 
The Pew Research Center survey on the nation's shifting attitudes about drug policy found that 75 percent of respondents think that the sale and use of pot eventually will be legal nationwide.12  Only 23 percent of Texas registered voters said marijuana should be illegal in all cases according to a Texas Tribune / UT Poll.  13
 
Texans may look towards prohibition for lessons on how to deal with violent gangs.  Learning from past mistakes in our criminal justice system may prevent these mistakes from occurring again.  Clearly, Texas prisons need to properly fund, train, and staff their prisons to prevent a replay of the bloodshed from the mid 1980's. 

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/28/5611392/few-texans-would-keep-marijuana.html#storylink=cpy
 

4 comments:

  1. My name is Razi. I'm a former "Weso" West Texas Tango member. The map showing the distribution of the Tangos in Texas is wrong. Region 4 is actually region 1 and is the real West Texas Tango territory. El Paso Tango is situated in the area code 915 which is seperated from West Texas. As soon as you drive east on Interstate 20 in Texas passing through El Paso and hit the Mile Marker 23 you've entered West Texas. 806 and most parts of 325 area codes are also apart of the West Texas Tango region of Texas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My name is Razi. I'm a former "Weso" West Texas Tango member. The map showing the distribution of the Tangos in Texas is wrong. Region 4 is actually region 1 and is the real West Texas Tango territory. El Paso Tango is situated in the area code 915 which is seperated from West Texas. As soon as you drive east on Interstate 20 in Texas passing through El Paso and hit the Mile Marker 23 you've entered West Texas. 806 and most parts of 325 area codes are also apart of the West Texas Tango region of Texas.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can anyone reading this comment on the early days of the Texas Syndicate or recommend any person, book or any other contact or source of info about the early days of this group. I am looking for any info on the gangs and barrios of Laredo with a focus on the time period from 1948 to 1978 as well. I can be contacted at wynann@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. " Scariest prison on Earth " is Saidnaya prison of Bashar al-Assad president of Syria invenitmundo.blogspot.com/2016/09/scariest-prison-on-earth-saidnaya.html

    ReplyDelete