New anti-gang initiative paying off
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Since we started our weekly fugitive feature, anonymous tips have led to the capture of four of the Top 10 Most Wanted Gang Fugitives in Houston. Our partners at the FBI and stophoustongangs.org maintain the success of the program is a testament to the importance of community involvement.
Agents say this initiative is a new tool to track down Houston's most wanted gang fugitives and it's proved to be successful.
More than 200 documented gangs exist in the Houston area. Their logos, often in the form of tattoos, are well known to officers. And they reach far beyond the inner city.
"We see problems in Cypress, we see problems in Katy, Kingwood, Sugar Land. The point is, no one is immune," said FBI agent Brian Ritchie, who also works with the Multi-Agency Gang Task Force.
Ritchie is trying to keep kids from even thinking about being initiated into a Houston gang. Some of these young minds have already seen them in action at their schools.
"They got gang affiliated and they started throwing up signs at out school and eventually they got expelled from the school," said 12-year-old Micah Russell.
The outreach also includes red flags for parents.
"Looking at bandanas of a certain color and then look for the clothes, because the clothes are usually going to match the color of the bandana," said Victor Gonzalez, who works with the mayor's anti-gang office.
But a new tool to reach the community is also proving very effective.
In September 2010, stophoustongangs.org was launched. Just six weeks ago a Top 10 Most Wanted Gang Fugitives was launched. It airs weekly on ABC13. Four gang members have already been captured.
"Not everyone is comfortable maybe calling the police and revealing their identity. So one of the biggest and one of the best features of the website is that it is completely anonymous," Ritchie said.
It's another tool to make Houston safer and keeps kids from going down a dead end path.
"When you walk outside and you see them in the alley, you just want to turn around and walk away," 12-year-old Nikko Tang said.
Outreach coordinators say one way for parents to help keep their kids away from gangs is to keep them involved in extracurricular activities.
local, erik barajas
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