AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to a drug arrest affidavit from earlier this week, gang drug activity has led to an increase in violent crimes including assault, robberies and murders in downtown Austin.
The court document said an officer was “attempting to combat our open-air drug market in the 500 block of Neches and the 600 block of Sabine. Which is controlled by the [gang] subset.”
We reached out to APD to get more information about this specific drug activity and how officers track it but have not heard back. It’s important to note we did not reach out to the public information office until later on Wednesday afternoon. We expect to hear back Thursday.
People who work on Neches said they haven’t seen blatant gang activity but have seen what they believe are drug deals near the alleys.
“Not surprising, so [gang activity] definitely probably is going on,” said Wayne Holmes. “But it’s shocking because I guess the identifiers I’ve never seen like flags or signs or stuff like that.”
The arrest affidavit also stated the gang and drug activity is “notorious for ruining the quality of life for the homeless population.”
We spoke with advocate Antony Jackson with We Can Now about that statement. He works directly with people experiencing homelessness downtown.
“I don’t see any [gang] that’s controlling certain areas,” he said. “They haven’t said anything about gang activity or anything about people from any gangs making them do anything or bullying them.”
The latest Texas Gang Threat Assessment by the Texas Department of Public Safety stated the gang mentioned in the affidavit has a “significant presence” in Travis County.
Austin crime records show a steady increase in crime reports on the stretches of Neches and Sabine streets recognized in the document as well.
KXAN will update this story when police provide additional information about gang activity in Austin.