Fueled by Central American Immigration, MS-13 Gaining Strength in Texas

September 2, 2015 in News by RBN


Last summer’s influx of Central American immigrants into Texas turned out to be a big boost for the ultra-violent Salvadoran based gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.  For the first time, the gang is listed in the ‘Top Tier’ of the five largest and most dangerous criminal gangs in Texas, in the annual ‘Gang Threat Assessment’ from the Department of Public Safety.

The Tango Blast, also known as the Tango Orejon, the loosely based gang which began as a ‘protection association’ in the Texas prison system, remains the largest of the numerous and varied street gangs in Texas, with 15,000 members.

But the membership of the Tango Blast is flexible, because, unlike most other criminal organizations, it lacks the ‘blood in, blood out’ culture what makes leaving the gang punishable by death.  The DPS says membership in the ‘cliques’ across the state is largely voluntary, with members drifting in and drifting out.

Smaller, but far more dangerous, are the prison-based Texas Syndicate and Texas Mexican Mafia gangs, with the Latin Kings, according to the report, increasingly active in ‘suburban and rural’ areas of the state.

One previously infamous gang has fallen on hard times, according to the report.  The Barrio Azteca, previously a violent drug running organization, has been ‘degraded’ due to law enforcement, and due to its association with Mexico’s Juarez drug cartel, which itself has been crippled, largely by rival Mexican gangs like the Zetas.

But the DPS says a relationship with a Mexican cartel remains the most profitable activity for Texas gang activity.  “These groups pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, high levels of transnational criminal activity, level of violence, and overall statewide presence.”

The report indicates Anglo gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood and the Aryan Circle, both formed in prisons, remain active in suburban areas and in parts of east Texas.  It also warns that a relatively new gang, called the Surenos, has become one of the state’s most violent and dangerous gangs.

Running drugs in cooperation with Mexican cartels remains the most lucrative activity for Texas gangs, but they are also branching into human trafficking, smuggling of immigrants, and gambling, according to the report.