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Gang Injunctions in Wichita Falls

An injunction order is “a writ granted by a court of equity whereby one is required to do or to refrain from doing a specified act”. The Texas Penal Code, Chapter 71.01(d) states, "Criminal street gang" means three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities”. A Wichita Falls District Court issues a gang injunction as a tool designed to decrease gang activity.

Through the use of restrictions placed on known gang members, the Wichita Falls Gang Taskforce Unit slows, controls, and limits gang crime and activity. Each gang has its own specific area in which members congregate and commit crimes. The “gang safety zone” is used in conjunction with the restrictions to limit gang activity.

Marking a first for municipalities across the state of Texas, the Wichita Falls City Attorney’s Office and the Wichita County District Attorney’s office combined efforts to file their first gang injunction against 21 of the most active members of the VC street gang on August 31, 2006. The injunction came as a response to a dramatic spike in gang-related crimes, including over 56 shootings, during the summer of 2005. An analysis of this escalation of gang violence indicated a low-level turf war between the Varrio Carnales (“VC”) and the Puro Lil Mafia ("PLM").

“Reacting to the gang problem was no longer enough.”said R. Kinley Hegglund. “On behalf of local law enforcement, we decided to take a proactive stance to better protect the citizens of Wichita Falls.”

Since that initial 2006 injunction, the City and County have filed four additional gang injunctions against the Puro Lil Mafia, North Side Crips, Hoova Crip Gang, and a second Varrio Carnales injunction. A total of 81 gang members have been named on these injunctions.

With the help of the Wichita Falls Gang Taskforce, gang activity and crime have been on the decline. The City of Wichita Falls recently announced the latest report on crime and gang activity revealed a 40% decline in gang-related incidents in gang safety zones since the city and county began the gang injunction project in 2006.