Violent gangs and drug traffickers in the Houston area are growing stronger and more international, spreading into the suburbs as they bulk up on newfound connections with Mexico's lucrative and brazen organized crime syndicates.
The region is home to far more gang members than anywhere in Texas, according to the National Gang Threat Assessment.
As of this year, there were 225 documented gangs roaming the area, according to intelligence reports, the biggest being the "Houstones," with at least 2,233 members that have been confirmed by police.
Their soldiers alone equate to about 43 percent of the number of Houston police officers.
"Due to their sheer numbers, they (gangs) have a propensity to create a large number and wide variety of criminal acts," according to a report reviewed by the Houston Chronicle and compiled by the Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a coalition of law-enforcement agencies that stretches from here to the coastal counties, an area that includes 6 million people