April 17, 2014

Gang with DFW presence called worst in Texas

Tango Blast, the fastest-growing gang in Texas, has cells around the state and an estimated 8,200 members.

Tango Blast, the most significant and rapidly growing gang in the state, has a heavy presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to the Texas Gang Threat Assessment released Thursday by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

More than 4,600 gangs have been identified in Texas, and the number of gang members may exceed 100,000, the annual report said.

“Gang violence and crime are a chief threat to public safety in Texas, and protecting our communities from these criminals remains a top priority,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement.

“This assessment provides detailed information about the gangs operating in our state, which will enhance the ability of law enforcement to combat these dangerous organizations and their associates.”

Tango Blast and its loosely affiliated cliques, with an estimated 8,200 members, are considered a top threat in all six regions of Texas, according to the report.

Other Tier I gangs in the state include the Texas Syndicate (4,400 members), the Texas Mexican Mafia (5,500) and Barrio Azteca (2,000), the report said.

The DPS assigns gangs to three “tiers” using a “threat assessment matrix” with 11 factors to assess the danger posed by each gang.

Those organizations pose the greatest threat across the state because of their relationships with Mexican cartels, large memberships, high levels of transnational crime and organizational effectiveness.

Tango Blast, which last year supplanted the Texas Mexican Mafia as the top statewide threat, maintains a heavy presence in Dallas-Fort Worth and is concentrated largely in the central and western counties in the region, the assessment said.

The local cells are known as D-Town in Dallas and Foritos in Fort Worth.

The Tangos boast the highest membership among prison gangs in Texas, the report said, noting that the group’s clique structure provides greater networking opportunities for crime.

Tango Blast was established by prison inmates from Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. These original Tangos came to be known as the Four Horsemen, the report said.

‘Most dangerous man’

Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford said that gang members pass through his jurisdiction occasionally but that one stop nearly four years ago involved “the most dangerous man I ever met.”

Mark Anthony Soliz, now 32, was a member of Tango Blast, Alford said.

On June 29, 2010, Soliz was on the eighth day of a drug-fueled crime spree that had already left one man dead and two others wounded in Tarrant County. He had headed south to Johnson County with an accomplice to find more victims.

Nancy Weatherly, a 61-year-old grandmother from Godley, became his target. He was convicted in 2012 of her execution-style slaying.

“He was coldblooded — the most dangerous man I ever met,” Alford said. “We watched him closely when he was in our jail, and we put extra security on him. It was his noncommittal demeanor — just cold. You’d see it in his eyes, and I had daily contact with him.”

Soliz now resides on Death Row.

Other gangs

The other most significant gangs in DFW are the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, which are classified as Tier II.

The Aryan Brotherhood, which started as a white-supremacist prison gang, is known for its involvement in violent crimes and the methamphetamine business. Its leadership structure and effectiveness have been seriously damaged by multiple investigations in recent years, the report said.

Unlike many of the gangs, the Bandidos conduct illegal activity as covertly as possible and avoid high-profile crimes such as drive-by shootings. But the group makes no secret of its membership, wearing gang colors and insignia and riding in large groups, the assessment said.

The Bandidos seek to curry public favor by organizing frequent charity runs. They are also likely to focus on recruiting new members with no criminal history.

Other gangs with a Metroplex presence include the Texas Syndicate, the Texas Mexican Mafia, the Crips, the Bloods, Sureno 13, the Aryan Circle, the Latin Kings and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report.

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