Local and federal agents in an anti-gang task force charged with waging the much-debated "War on Drugs" have nabbed another round of bad guys, this time more than a dozen members of Texas' largest prison gang, Tango Blast Houstone.
Acting Houston U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson announced today that 14 members of the highly-decentralized yet populous Houstone gang have been indicted on five counts related to the possession and distribution of marijuana and cocaine. The indictments are the result of the task-force's three-year-long investigation, which involved organizations including the FBI, DEA., ATF, Houston Police Department, and the IRS.
As we reported back in August 2007, Tango Blast Houstone bills itself as a milder and kinder alternative to other state prison gangs such as the Texas Syndicate and Mexican Mafia. Members follow a looser code and set of rules and are not nearly as organized. That said, Tango Blast Houstone members can be just as vicious and involved in crime. So while the gang and its seemingly relaxed approach may look fresh and unique, in many ways it's just an act members are using to recruit unprecedented numbers of people into the largest and fastest-growing gang in Texas.
Johnson hosted a news conference this afternoon to announce that this is the task-force's first made case of the new year.
"We're here collectively to wage battle against any gang who chooses Houston as their turf," said F.B.I Special Agent in Charge Andrew Bland.
The government is alleging that beginning in 2007, the defendants conspired to possess with the intent to sell 1,000 or more kilos of marijuana and more than five kilos of cocaine. In addition to the drugs, agents also seized guns, jewelry, cell phones, several high-end cars and $12,000 in cash. The government is also seeking the defendants to forfeit $18 million, the alleged worth of the sold drugs, says Johnson.
Ten of the 14 indicted gang members are in custody. Four are still on the loose. The F.B.I asks that if anyone knows the whereabouts of Ronnie Elmer Jackson of Navasota, Raul Sergio Madrigal of League City, Mario Alberto Gonzalez of Houston or Juan Mario Rangel of Houston, to contact them at 713-693-5000.
-- Chris Vogel