DPS: Three major cartels have ETX presence - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

DPS: Three major cartels have ETX presence

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

A new report says Mexican drug cartels and prison gangs are significant threats to East Texas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released the "2013 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview," a state intelligence review that recognizes public safety threats to the state.

"I'm not trying to scare anybody, but we do have a problem with illicit drug use and sales in Smith County, in and around Smith County. We have problems with human trafficking, believe it or not. We have a lot of problems that people need to open their eyes up to," said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

DPS said Mexican cartels are the most significant organized crime threat to Texas. Three of the eight major Mexican cartels, Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel and La Familia, are operating right here in East Texas. In fact, just a few months ago a number of members of La Familia were arrested at a Tyler property.

Officials said large amounts of drugs, cash and fire arms were found on property. Court documents said members of La Familia were purifying large amounts of methamphetamine before taking the drugs to Dallas.

"Tyler unfortunately now has got a foothold and they've become a hub," Smith said.

DPS said Interstates 20, 30 and 35 provide gateways for moving illicit drugs throughout the country, but Smith says it's not limited to the interstates. 

"There's a lot of movement on Highway 69 of drugs and other things as well as the other things as well as there is on the other major highways," Smith said.

Another concern is the evolution of cartel tactics in Mexico, which include the use of torture, beheading and other terrorist tactics.

"If that were to start on this side of the border tomorrow, we're not prepared for it," said Smith.

The sheriff added that it will take all levels of government working together to put an end to this escalating problem in East Texas.

To view the full report, click here.

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