EDINBURG — Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies have swept across the county the past two weeks, arresting at least 45 gang members wanted on everything from minor charges to attempted murder.
For Sheriff Lupe Treviño, the operation sends a clear message to area gang members.
“They’re not going to rule Hidalgo County,” he said. “Law and order is.”
Dubbed “Operation Street Sweep,” the sheriff’s office effort primarily targeted the Tri-City Bombers and their hated rivals, the Texas Chicano Brotherhood. Law enforcement considers both organized criminal groups to be more dangerous than smaller street gangs operating in the area.
That, combined with an FBI-lead sting earlier this month that took out 13 high-ranking Bombers now under federal indictment, left local gang investigators concerned that the rival gangs might engage in retaliation, , Treviño said.
“In order to avoid any bloodshed — any drive-by shootings, anything like that — we targeted both of them,” he said.
Beyond the Bombers and the Chicanos, the 30 tactical patrol deputies and four supervisors assigned to the project also arrested members from nine other street gangs.
Other gangs targeted include smaller ones like the Southside Bandits and the Southside Folk, both based south of Donna, which typically engage in with theft and street-level drug dealing, Treviño said.
“We are committed to eliminating as much of this scourge as we can,” he said.
In all, sheriff’s deputies had located and arrested at least 45 gang members, as of Monday. At least another half dozen members are being targeted in other areas across Texas.
The operation is the latest effort publicized by law enforcement targeting organized crime.
Besides the sting that struck the Bombers’ leadership earlier this month, federal, state and local law enforcement rounded up 26 people with suspected ties to Mexican drug cartels last week.
Most of those arrested during the first two weeks of “Street Sweep” had active warrants for prior crimes. Deputies made other arrests when they found gang members with drugs while pursuing other suspects.
The operation will continue, with 326 other gang members with arrest warrants still on the run, Treviño said.
“This is not a dog and pony show,” the sheriff said. “It’s a real enforcement effort to try and incapacitate as many gang members as we can.”
Jared Taylor covers courts and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439.