Organized crimes are treated very seriously by the authorities, particularly when crimes of theft may involve violence.
However, impressionable teens can sometimes be drawn into a life of crime due to peer pressure, poor parenting, economic factors or a range of other reasons.
Recently, the Houston Chronicle reported on how 11 teenagers and a 21-year-old were accused of taking part in an organized crime operation that the authorities say became more pervasive and violent as it progressed.
Police said the teens stole from homes and cars in the Fairfield area of Houston and re-sold goods including guns and TVs for cash. The group is accused of reselling the articles in parking lots and on the Internet. Investigators said they were not seeking anything in particular when they broke into houses and cars.
Officers said their crimes became increasingly violent and entailed an aggravated assault as well as a drive-by shooting until they were arrested and accused of being part of an organized crime ring, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told the media during a press conference.
Police have accused the teen organized crime ring of committing at least 74 burglaries to cars, 11 burglaries to residences, two aggravated robberies, an aggravated assault and one auto theft, police said.
The arrests included one juvenile, six 18-year-olds, four 19-year-olds and a 21-year old, police said. They cited a wide variety of alleged crimes including theft of firearms, engagement in organized crime, burglary of a habitation, burglary of a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, failure to stop and give information, possession of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence.
Police released the names of the 11 adult suspects. There are eight male suspects and three female suspects. They are being held on a bond of up to $20,000 for the charge of engaging in organized crime.
The accused are Michael Hughes, Raul Behena, Brian Hernandez, Victor Behena, Jasmine Dubec, Anthony Burrus, Elizabeth Mendez, Darian Weinberg, Isaiah Johns, Miguel Mujica, Sami Chabane.
Police said one 18-year-old suspect, Daniel Lopez, remains at large, and investigators expect to round up more people linked to the alleged organized crime ring that they say took place close to the homes of some of the suspects.
Investigators say it’s not clear how these young people got together in the first place, but many of them are friends and some of them are related to each other. Some of the younger suspects still attend local schools. Herman said investigators do not believe the ring was gang related, and it does not seem to have a hierarchy. When teens are members of gangs they can be subjected to even tougher gang related charges.
Harris County investigators sent out several search warrants over a four-month investigation that led to the eventual arrests. One suspect was picked up after fleeing the scene of an accident. He allegedly told officers about the ring, prompting the investigation.
Herman said police will run a detailed data analysis of crimes in the area the crimes took place and expects that burglaries will likely decrease after the arrests.
It’s not the first time police say they have discovered an organized crime ring in Harris County.
In September 2014, Officials claimed to have uncovered an organized crime ring in which six men worked together, stealing vehicles over a three month period.
They arrested Hunter Evans, 17, Logan Horak, 19, Austin Krolczyk, 17, Alegandro Garza, 20, Matthew Post, 19, and Michael Hughes, 19 and charged them with engaging in organized crime.
Charges of engaging in organized crime carry a much heavier penalty than one-off theft offenses. If you are charged with a crime of this nature at a young age, your future is likely to be severely impacted and it’s vital to hire an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney.