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Austin Police Department creates new gang unit

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The Aryan Brotherhood is making headlines as investigators look into the murders of two Kaufman County prosecutors and a family member.

Like other gangs in Austin, police say the Aryan Brotherhood is a growing presence and should be considered dangerous.

Austin police say the gang problem here is not as bad as Houston or San Antonio. But make no mistake gangs have a significant presence here. So much so that the Austin police now has a new street level gang unit to deal with the growing numbers.

A quick briefing before visiting a suspected gang member's home. Police want more information about a confrontation he had with another suspected gang member on Monday.

Identifying and documenting gang members in Austin is the goal of the month old street level gang unit. Austin police recently got the green light to for the four uniformed officers.

"We have a significant gang presence in Austin," said Sgt. Van Zura.

The Aryan Brotherhood is one of many gangs APD tracks. Police gave us pictures of tattoos from Aryan Brotherhood of Texas members. According to the department's criminal intelligence analyst, there are 80 documented members in Austin. Twenty more are suspected. Police consider them just as dangerous as the other gangs in Austin.

"Every gang out there is a criminal enterprise," Van Zura said.

The Aryan Brotherhood is also known as AR. Members are white. Police say they associate themselves with the numbers 1, 2 and 20. Numbers that correspond with the letters of the alphabet. A, B and T for the first letters of Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

"If Aryan Brotherhood come up against another group like the Aryan Circle or a different gang, a lot of times they have to get permission before they can do anything. They can't just jump that person and beat the crap of him," said APD Officer John Ridenour.

Ridenour has had encounters with the AR members. Like any other gang, he says initiation includes violence and crime.

"Sometimes they'll say go rob that person and drive down the street and pick a random person, go rob that person and bring us back his wallet and you're in the gang, you've proved yourself," Ridenour said.

Austin police say there hasn't been a threat from the Aryan Brotherhood. With the creation of the new street level gang unit, police hopes it stays that way.

The Texas Department of Public Safety just released a Texas gang threat assessment. The report is several pages long but one of the main things coming out of it that gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety in Texas and are responsible for a high number of crimes.

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