AUSTIN - Mexican drug cartels still pose a big public threat to the state of Texas. That's according to an intelligence report that was released by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The report is broken down into seven categories, that include crime, terrorism, motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters, public health threats, industrial accidents and cyber threats.
In this year's Texas Public Safety Threat Overview report, officials say six of the eight cartels have command and control networks operating in Texas right now. They're moving drugs and people into the U.S. but they're not just bringing stuff into our country. DPS officials say they're also taking cash, weapons and stolen vehicles back to Mexico.
In a statement from DPS Director Steven McCraw, "The impact of cartel crime is painfully obvious when we look to our neighbors in Mexico, with some 60,000 deaths since 2006 and continued cases of brutal torture. It is a top DPS priority to severely obstruct the range and power of Mexican drug organizations to affect the public safety of Texas citizens."
The report also mentions West Texas as one of the five main passage ways for drug smuggling, naming Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 as some of the major smuggling routes.
The cartel threat is also seeping its way through law enforcement. The report indicates since October of 2004, more than 140 Customs and Border Protection employees have been arrested or indicted for acts of corruption. It includes drug and immigrant smuggling and money laundering.
Another threat to the state? Statewide prison gangs. According to the report, gang members are working directly with the Mexican cartels. There are more than 100,000 gang members across the state. A look of gang presence is included in the report demonstrated by a graph of the state and counties. More than 2,500 gangs have been identified throughout Texas, ranging from small to large gangs.
Midland County is shown to have the highest followed by Ector and Winkler county.
As for the third biggest safety threat, traffic accidents. The report says a rise in car crashes started back in 2009 and of those, commercial vehicle-related crashes, like the ones involving 18-wheelers, increased to over 1,000 just last year. There were 41 deaths related to those crashes.