Ten more alleged gang members have been added to a long list of suspects charged in a drug trafficking ring. The group made its initial court appearance Friday in federal court in Lufkin.
Seven other suspects also appeared in court after being indicted on drug charges. They each entered a not guilty plea. Authorities arrested all of them in 'Operation Kings Court', a sting that lasted four years. The suspects are from Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and Diboll.
The probe targeted people believed to be distributing large amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The suspects are reportedly affiliated with a well-known gang known as the Latin Kings. The 41-count indictment against them includes charges of distributing and possessing a large amount of drugs around the East Texas area.
Ralph Bean is the gang education officer for the Lufkin Police Department. He spends most of his time teaching middle school students about the trouble gang life can get them into. For many of his young students, the message is already too late.
Officer Ralph Bean said, "It's mainly taught to seventh graders, because at that age - 12 or 13 - that's when kids decide they want to straddle the fence. They don't know if they want to go right or what they want to do, so we've been teaching the program now for eight years at Lufkin Middle School."
Gang activity is no longer limited to certain neighborhoods, you can find it just about anywhere.
"In Lufkin, it's not as big compared to some of the other cities we see. Nacogdoches has a big gang problem, Diboll has one, but as you can see with some of the writing on the walls of the playground equipment, we do have gang problems here in our city."
One of the biggest crime organizations around is the Latin Kings. Several alleged members appeared in federal court Friday after a grand jury indicted them on drug trafficking charges.