TYLER, Texas (KETK)- According to a report done by the Department of Public Safety, more than 100,000 gang members live in Texas, but newly-formed Anti-Gang Centers, could bring that number down.
“We know that probably 85 to 90 percent, just about any offense that you can think of, any violent offense that you can think of, and a lot of property crimes are directed related to drugs. All of that is pretty much gang related,” said Sheriff Larry Smith.
To combat crimes happening in the area, Tyler will be creating a ‘TAG’ center, which stands for Texas Anti-Gang Center. The task force will be comprised of local and federal agents.
Tyler’s center will join six others across the state of Texas including El Paso, Lubbock, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and McAllen.
“Anywhere you have one gang member, you have a gang problem as far as I’m concerned, and Tyler, East Texas, Smith County has way too many. Outlawed motorcycle gangs, traditional gangs, Crips and Bloods, Cartel,” said Sheriff Smith.
According to DPS, since the first TAG Center was established in 2013, Authorities have made more than 9,000 arrests. A number Governor Abbott is hoping will grow.
“Additionally, inmates involved in organized crime in prison, will lose their visitation and outward bound communication privileges. The reason for this penalty is that it undercuts their ability to coordinate with gang members on the outside,” said Governor Greg Abbott.
Governor Abbott started the task force after a Houston girl was murdered by an MS-13 gang member.
The program not only aims to put an end to gangs in Texas but also punishes anyone aiding in their criminal activity.
“Under my plan it will be a crime, to knowingly allow your property to be used for a stash house. In addition to criminal penalties, the property owner will forfeit title to their house, and it will be transferred to a charitable organization that helps to fight human trafficking,” said Governor Abbott.
Within six weeks, the Tyler Gag Center should be fully operational, giving law enforcement another way to protect the community.
Once launched, the Anti-Gang center will feature a website, where the public can view recent arrests made by the task force, and information on how to report criminal activity in your neighborhood.