AUSTIN -- The Texas Department of Public Safety's Threat Overview states the two biggest threats to Texas are the Mexican cartels and statewide prison gangs. The report was released earlier this week, but Friday Austin's police chief said those two problems are very real, and APD continues to monitor the situation closely and aggressively.
In a 2009 KVUE Special Assignment "War On Our Border," U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul referenced the 5,000 killings in Mexico the year before.
"I don't think most Americans realize there's another war going on, and it's in Mexico just south of our border," said McCaul.
If they didn't then -- they should now. Especially after this week's DPS report that shows the Mexican cartels and state wide prison gangs, that often work in conjunction with the cartels, pose the two biggest threats to Texas.
"It is an absolute real threat to our region," said Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Acevedo discussed the growing threat in Austin and Central Texas.
"One of the things that we've done as a police department with our federal and state partners is made the cartel one of our number one public enemies," said Acevedo.
"It will be a mistake to bury our heads in the sand and think this problem is going to go away," said an APD undercover agent when we rode with him three years ago.
Gang task force members realized then just how much the cartel problem was growing. Today APD gang unit members tell us since our special report they've seen the cartels expanding their reach into Central Texas.
"It's not just the drug trafficking organizations, the drug cartels in Mexico," said Acevedo. "It's also the prison gangs here."
APD says it's aware cartels are recruiting street and prison gang members to move their product and provide security. In the past three years APD and its organized crime partners with the FBI and DEA have been combating the cartel prison gang partnerships.
"We basically decimated the Mexican mafia," said Acevedo. "I'm very proud of the fact that we've taken and dismantled quite a few organizations. We're going to continue to focus on those drug trafficking organizations to roll out the unwelcome mat and keep Austin one of the safest cities in the country."
The DPS report said that 60,000 men and woman have been killed in Mexico since 2006.