LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A new report releasedfrom the Texas Department of Public Safety shed some new light on a growinggang problem in Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.
The 40-page report iscompiled from reports from various departments around the state.
East Texas News talkedwith local law enforcement today about the growing numbers and why one of thembelieves the problem may only escalate.
When you drive aroundEast Texas, you can see the evidence of gangs.
"It's not that wehave particular gangs," said Lt. Pete Maskunas of the Angelina County Sheriff'sOffice. "For the lack of a better term, we have a buffet of everybody."
And the new statereport agrees. It states that Angelina and Nacogdoches counties rank high ingang activity.
According to thereport, Bloods, Crips, and the Aryan Brotherhood are the biggest concerns.However, Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges said Latin Kings and MS 13are also on the rise.
"We are veryproactive in identifying our gang members," Bridges said. "I think that is whythe numbers show what they show."
So why are the numbersso high? The answer - U.S. 59.
"I have walked thehighway for over 20 years," Bridges said. "It has always been a major corridorfor drugs. It's one of the top highways if not the top highway in the nationfor criminal activity."
And with the plannedexpansion of U.S. 59 to Interstate 69, the problem could grow.
"That is a boom forus as an economic development, but with that increase in population andeconomics, comes an increase in that criminal element," Maskunas said.
Previous East TexasNews reports also back up the study. Last summer, a homeowner was robbed. Theculprits were suspected Houston gang members training a Lufkin gang, Maskunassaid. And just last week, three people shot were shot near Winston Park, andLufkin Police officers believe the incident was gang-related.
But should there beconcern for a coming turf war? Maskunas said not yet.
"We have had reportsthrough intelligence sources that there are gangs trying to establish territory,and if they are met with rival gangs there will be problems," Maskunas said.
If it does come,Maskunas said the Angelina County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcementagencies will be ready.