On the surface it may seem like a routine drug bust, but an individual arrested in Liberty County in early November reportedly has ties to a notorious street gang. The Texas Department of Public Safety says this bunch is one of the fastest growing criminal gangs in Texas. On November 3rd DPS Trooper made a traffic stop. A deputy with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Unit also arrived to assist the Trooper. That’s when the deputy learned the driver stopped was Eric Joseph Cortez who was a registered street gang member called “Tango Blast”. Back in 2017, a study done by the Texas DPS learned the “Tango Blast” street gang, and it’s associated cliques, had about 19,000 members, mostly based in the Houston area. That is a much higher number than the 500 or so said to be members of the better known MS-13 gang. Tango Blast and its associated Tango cliques still remains as the greatest statewide gang threat. This gang, with their lax membership structure, continues to grow, largely unrestricted, both inside and outside of the Texas prison system.
When combined, Tango Blast and Tango’s various cliques have the largest membership levels in Texas, even the individual cliques are outnumbering most gangs. Tango members engage in a variety of crimes across the state, including trans-national crimes along the Mexico border. Now get this - a study done in 2018 shows there are more than 17 known criminal gangs with operations, or known members, living right here, in Liberty County. From groups like the Tango Blast to the Aryan Brotherhood or the Bandidos motorcycle gang. Why does this matter to residents of Liberty County? According to a study from Cambridge University the lasting impact of these types of groups in a community is the violence they cause and because of the harmful effects of gang membership on its own members. At the combined level, these gangs commit more violence and more serious crimes than other delinquent youth groups.