The Harris County District Attorney's Office says 11 gang members have been charged in connection to 41 armed robberies, many of which occurred at meat markets.
According to the district attorney's office, crews of masked men would hit the establishments, fire guns into the air and then get cash from the registers and check cashing booths.
Authorities say they were usually out in less than two minutes, but in at least one instance, an attacker allegedly held a customer at gunpoint to force the cashier to unlock the check cashing booth.
“The evidence shows these crews robbed everywhere but their own neighborhoods, as they preyed on businesses and terrified innocent people,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “Now they will have to stand in court and face judgement.”
The district attorney's office says more arrests and charges are possible. The investigation continues in coordination with the ATF Crime Gun Strike Force, which consists of local and federal agencies.
“Through the newly established ATF Crime Gun Strike Force, we are working with our partners, including police, prosecutors, and crime labs,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski said. “ATF uses our Crime Gun Intelligence capabilities to link violent gun crimes and disrupt the shooting cycle.
The district attorney's office says all of the suspects charged are tied to robberies carried out between July 2018 and February 2019 by "a loose-knit coalition of members from multiple Houston-area gangs."
"Among those charged are defendants who entered the locations and carried out the robberies, as well as the so-called 'shot callers' who scouted the locations and planned the crimes," the district attorney's office said in a release.
Officials say the robberies occurred mostly in Harris County, but some also occurred in the Galveston and Beaumont areas.
Agencies involved in the effort include the Houston Police Department; the Harris County Sheriff’s Office; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas; the Galveston Police Department; the Beaumont Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.