Multi-agency task force targets MS-13

I was late checking the "This Week" sections and almost missed this story about Houston's growing nightmare -- MS-13:

"Certainly southwest Houston is not the only part of the city where we have seen gangs, but we have seen an increase, an escalation of gang activity in the southwest part of the city."

The speaker, a Houston FBI agent who asked not to be identified for security reasons, wasn't in the conference room at the bureau's Houston headquarters on T.C. Jester recently. He and other members of a multi-agency gang task force were out in the field on an operation to arrest more members of the Central American gang Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13.

The local FBI bureau and other partnering agencies the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have achieved success in putting MS-13 members behind bars.

In recent months, the Houston task force has arrested about 20 members of MS-13, mostly Salvadoran immigrants who started the gang in Los Angeles during the 1980s.

[snip]

Southwest Houston particularly the Fondren, Beechnut and Gulfton areas has particularly seen an increase in gang activities in recent years, the agent said.

On April 12, the Houston community was rocked when a toddler, Aiden Naquin, was shot to death in what police called a drug-related crime, making him one of about nine Houston residents at the time that were believed to have been killed at the hands of MS-13 members. A 19-year-old Salvadoran has been charged with capital murder in that case.

Law enforcement, meanwhile, has stepped up its reliance on the public to provide information about suspicious activity that may signal criminal gangs, such as MS-13 or others, are operating in their neighborhoods.

Kevin and I had a conversation about this just the other day. We cannot figure out why there hasn't been a well-publicized effort to get the public involved in rooting out MS-13. We know HPD has a manpower shortage; and there's that old saying that the best defense is a good offense. The local citizenry should be encouraged to keep eyes and ears open, to help law enforcement. A fearful public is MS-13's best hope.

And can someone PLEASE explain to me why this story is stuck in a "This Week" section? This should be on the front of "City & State" at the very least.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 05/25/05 07:03 AM | Print |

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