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DFW police get $1.4 million to fight international gangs

Five North Texas police departments will get a total of $1.4 million in grant money to help fight transnational gangs, Gov. Rick Perry announced Wednesday at a news conference in Dallas.

Dallas will get the most, with $500,000. Arlington, Fort Worth, Irving and Garland will each get $225,000, officials said. Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Houston, Laredo, McAllen and San Antonio will also receive funds. The money will help pay overtime for officers focused on gang enforcement, Perry said.

In Arlington, officials expect the grant to help them bolster police presence and reduce crime in gang hot spots, said Assistant Chief Will Johnson, who represented the department at the news conference.

But officials must review the grant's stipulations before making specific plans to use the funds, said Lt. Blake Miller, a department spokesman.

"We're going to attack any gang organizations that try to get a foothold in Arlington," Miller said. "We'd also like to use some of the money for enhancing technology to make us more efficient in how we monitor and police known gang offenders."

The governor said he'll allocate a total of $4 million from his Criminal Justice Division to help departments crack down on transnational gangs, such as the Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate. Last week, about two dozen suspected members and associates of the Texas Syndicate prison gang, including 14 men in Fort Worth and four in Arlington, were arrested in a statewide sweep.

The gang initiative is part of Perry's border security strategy, according to a statement issued by his office. During an appearance in Arlington earlier this month, Perry said he will ask the 2009 Legislature to approve $110 million in sustained border security funding and to add $24 million to help Texas law enforcement agencies combat transnational gangs.

Click here for Perry's press release