Gang activity in Austin

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on April 5, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 5 at 10:14 PM

The city of Austin's Public Safety Commission invited local, state and federal police to its monthly meeting Monday, April 5th to discuss the growing violence at the Mexican and U.S. border.

The question was if gang violence on the border between drug cartels is currently or will in the immediate future have an impact here in Austin.

A.P.D. Commander Chris Noble told KVUE "there's going to be some connection just by the simple fact that the cartels are supplying the product (drugs) and the street gangs, some of them are selling it but we have not seen a true organized distribution network.", said Noble.

Austin police estimate that there are more than 2,000 gang members in the area, however  most of them are considered street gangs, not associated with prison or drug cartel gangs.

Those same gang members are responsible for a 20-percent increase in gang activity locally.

Much of the concern at the Public Safety Commission meeting Monday was whether or not Austin could see the same fate that border cities like El Paso and Laredo are experiencing in the midst of the drug cartel battles.

"I think that if we are asleep at the wheel here in Austin that we would run a possibility three years from now that we might see some of the violence, some of the problems that exists in those border communities.", said Michael Lauderdale, the chairman of the Public Safety Commission.

"We can't predict specifically where we're going to be three years from now. We've got the best strategy in place which is everybody working together.", said Royce Curtain with the F.B.I.

Officials also pointed out that the Austin police force is currently short some 500 officers.

"We're five-hundred police officers short in Austin, that's not just about gangs. We know traffic fatalities are up, we know residential burglaries are up, graffiti is up across the board so we have a lot of things to be concerned about.", said Mike Levy, Public Safety Commission member.

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