POSTED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 8:42pm
Longview, TX (Longview News-Journal) — After gunfire rang out March 4 in Kilgore, police suspected a shootout between two rival gangs. Officers collected more than 30 shell casings from several different caliber guns at the scene.
While gang activity is most commonly associated with urban inner cities, Longview police say 30 gangs operate in and around the city and are responsible for a wide variety of crimes, including murder. A recent statewide assessment found a variety of gangs are funneling illegal drugs through East Texas on their way to destinations in the north.
The annual Texas Gang Threat Assessment report, recently issued by the Department of Public Safety, estimates there are more than 100,000 gang members in the state representing 2,500 gangs.
“Every gang you would have in a big city we have represented here,” said Longview police Detective Lanie Smith, who investigates gangs. “Folks transplant from big cities and bring in what they were doing there. And we see young people who just want to emulate what they see on TV.”
Varieties of Crips, Bloods, Latino, Mexican, white supremacist and motorcycle gangs are involved in criminal activity across Longview, police say.
“We do have gangs here that are extremely organized,” Smith said. “We have gangs here that federal agencies take notice of.”
Because of the secret nature of their operations and the loyalty members show to their leaders, gangs require a more watchful eye from law enforcement, he said.
“Gang members are involved in all types of criminal activities — everything from theft to murder. I can’t think of a crime that has not been committed by gang members,” Smith said.
Continue reading KETK newspaper partner the Longview News-Journal report here. 
Read the Texas Gang Threat Assessment report here.