HOUSTON - Gang problems are not unusual in Houston. But you may be surprised to find that if there is a gang in Texas, they have a presence in the Bayou City. In fact, according to the National Gang Threat Assessment Group, Houston has more gang members than any other city in the Lone Star State.
The number of different documented gangs in our city is 225. Their total members are estimated to be around 10,000, but the reality is the true numbers are difficult to determine.
Lt. Craig Williams is on the front lines of the battle. He says gangs have changed the way they do business.
"They are more organized than people want to give them credit for. They are a little smarter. They are very chameleon like," he says. "Some gangs ... there is no more blood in, blood out. They will let people come in and join the gang and if you choose not to be a gang member anymore for whatever reason you could probably get out."
Lt. Williams says gang activity is in literally every part of our area.
"They all work together for one thing. They can be any race. They can operate in any area, uptown it doesn't matter if you're in the suburbs or if you're in the inner city."
With money being the prime motivator, gangs go where the money is.
"The suburban areas are more affluent. That's where the money is. I'm not saying that there's not money in the city of Houston but people tend to be less on guard in the suburbs. You go out in the suburbs and you let your guard down you say well I made it. I'm living the American dream. I don't have to worry about the crime in the city of Houston but you do because it's there."
HPD has teamed up with a number of law enforcement agencies for an anti-gang task force. They created the website stophoustongangs.org. It is a website where you can learn about gang tattoos, clothing, how they work and where.
"Since the inception on Sept. 23 of this year we've had close to 28,000 hits on the website and generated numerous clues," Williams says.
HPD says 8 to 10 arrests have already come from the information gathered from that website.
Other law enforcement agencies have taken note. At least 6 have already contacted HPD for help in setting up their own website.