Friday, October 14, 2011

Officials announce results of gang crackdown

A special shout out to the U.S. Marshals Service, The Bureau Of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, The San Antonio Police Department,The Bexar County Sheriff;s Office..Job well done!!

Federal and local authorities on Friday announced they had arrested 212 accused gang members in San Antonio, more than half of them from a loosely organized group whose members call themselves “Orejones.”
The announcement culminates Operation Triple Beam — Target Orejón, a 17-week sweep by the U.S. Marshals Service, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The operation included the arrests of 121 Orejón members or associates, and 91 from other gangs on charges that include murder, sex crimes, drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons and parole violations. The operation, officials said, was a proactive approach that also yielded 38 firearms, $82,440 in cash, 26.6 pounds of cocaine, 2.75 pounds of methamphetamine, almost 1.8 pounds of heroin and 5.4 pounds of marijuana.

Their criminal activity was reaching into tourist areas downtown, including the River Walk, officials said.
“We became aware that this gang was increasing in size and membership,” said U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte. “They are not as organized and structured as other gangs, so we wanted to hit them before they had the opportunity to do that.”

The Orejones, officials say, number about 2,000 in the greater San Antonio area. They are a local branch of the “Tangos,” which began proliferating in the 1990s and is one of the fastest-growing gangs in the Texas prison system. Branches of the Tangos are reported in Houston, Dallas and other Texas cities.

Tangos lack a leadership structure — they band together behind bars for protection against the older organized gangs, and return to the streets outside prison without having to answer to a gang hierarchy, officers said.

San Antonio-area Tangos refer to themselves as Orejones, meaning someone with big ears, officers said.
“They're kind of the guys who heard what's going on in prison; they were the ears of the prison,” said SAPD gang unit Lt. David Scepanski.

Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz said the Bexar County Jail has been grappling with the group.
“We noticed they were younger and more ruthless than the older gangs we typically saw at the jail and they gave us all kinds of problems,” Ortiz said.

In recent years, the Orejones have gone to war with the Texas Mexican Mafia in the Bexar County Jail, which had traditionally been a TMM recruiting ground and stronghold, Ortiz said.

Regardless of the gangs' origins and structure, officials said they will go after them if they are a menace to the community.

“There have been lives saved by putting these people behind bars and taking them off the street,” Police Chief William McManus said.

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