Friday, April 29, 2011
Over 14,000 strong, TDCJ's Tango Blast gang still creating major issues inside the walls.
By Doug Glass, Backgate Website
Texas prison officials first noted the presence of a gang known as the Four Horseman in 1998. Some Hispanic gang members entering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) from the cities of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston were not interested in joining an established prison gang and established the Four Horseman to protect one another and to engage in illegal activities, particularly drug-trafficking, to make money. The Four Horseman became known as the Tangos, because its members wore tattoos that reflected the town (or tango) in which they resided prior to their incarceration. As interest in the Tangos grew among Hispanic gang members entering the TDCJ from other areas of Texas, only inmates from West Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and El Paso were allowed into the gang.
In 1998, the Tango Blast prison gang is formed in the Clemens state prison in Brazoria, Texas. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In 2001, both the Tango Blast and Barrio Azteca engage in a gang fight in a gymnasium at the Torres state prison in Hondo, Texas. Both gangs settle a truce soon after. (Associated Press)
On January of 2002, members of the Barrio Azteca brutally stab a Tango Blast member while the victim is using the restroom at the Robertson state prison in Abilene, Texas. A gang war between the two gangs erupts state wide soon after. (Associated Press)
On June 2002, the Tango Blast retaliates against the Barrio Azteca by severely beating 4 of its members in the John B. Connally state prison in Kenedy, Texas. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In mid 2002, the Texas Syndicate declares war on the Tango Blast prison gang. (Gang Intelligence 101)
In April 2002, members of the Texas Syndicate murder a Tango Blast member at the J.B. Connally state prison. (Gang Intelligence 101)
On August 7, 2005, Tango Blast member Rolando Vasquez murders Juan Rodriguez, a member of the Varrio Northside street gang in Houston, Texas. (Vasquez v. State, No. 2-06-409-CR (Tex. App. 9/4/2008)
On August 31, 2006, several Tango Blast members are arrested for drug distribution and trafficking in Dallas, Texas. (Aguilar v. State, No. 05-07-00660-CR (Tex. App. 8/18/2008)
In October 2007, Tango Blast member William Linzer kidnaps and rapes a teenage girl in Houston. (Associated Press)
On May 2007, Tango Blast member Jesus Elizondo, 22, shoots and kills a 15-year-old boy in Dallas. (Associated Press)
In June 2008, The Tango Blast prison gang attack Texas Chicano Brotherhood members in the J.B. Connally state prison. (Gang Intelligence 101)
On November 16, 2008, Tango Blast members murder Alejandro Vasquez in a nightclub in downtown Dallas. (Associated Press)
On December 2008, ten members of the West Texas Tango gang are arrested in a major cocaine and meth trafficking ring. (U.S. Department of Justice Press Release)
In 2009, four members of the Tango Blast gang are arrested by FBI officials in Houston for possession of more than five kilos of cocaine. Agents seized fire arms, high end cars and jewelry. (Associated Press)
With law enforcement all over Texas comparing notes on the group, hundreds of arrests are being made from everything from armed robbery, to murder by Tango members. The group lures in new members by offering protection and unity. Although members claim not to follow the same principles of other prison gangs, they sometimes do. They routinely "cora check" or "beat in" potential gang members, and many face the same repercussions if they leave the group. They originated in the late 1990's as a group to protect themselves against other gangs, but have evolved into a prison based criminal enterprise. Trafficking drugs, tobacco, cell phones and extortion have elevated the Tangos past the level of most established Texas prison gangs.
Tango members are violent towards other offenders and staff members alike, being responsible for the majority of offender and staff assaults on many prison units. The group has grown significantly over the last couple of years and there true numbers within the Texas prison system can really only be estimated based on self admission by the offender, or through security threat group investigation.No matter what their official numbers, they will surely be a thorn in the side of the TDCJ for years to come.