- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

A multilevel gang task force in Houston yesterday announced the arrests of eight hurricane refugees from New Orleans — a group Houston police say is responsible for at least 11 slayings and numerous burglaries and thefts in the metropolitan area since November.

“We’re talking about what appears to be a rivalry between two groups of individuals who were associated with two different housing projects in New Orleans,” Houston police Capt. M.D. Brown told The Washington Times. “Their rivalry began several years ago — certainly prior to Katrina — and carried over to Houston.”

He said the arrests came after “weeks of cooperation with Louisiana police and the FBI.”

Houston’s crime rate spiked noticeably in the final months of 2005, and police officials have attributed much of the increase to lawbreakers who moved to the city after Hurricane Katrina.

The eight men who were arrested, as well as three others who are still being sought, are all between the ages of 20 and 27, according to the Houston Chronicle

The Texas paper identified those in custody as:

• Kalvin Forcell, 21, charged with murder in a shooting Nov. 20.

• Alvin Sims, 20, charged with capital murder in a shooting of two Louisiana men Dec. 31.

• Jason McMaster, 24, charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

• Cornelius Gordon, 21, charged with engaging in organized crime and possession of a weapon.

• Daryl Robinson, 27, charged with murder in a shooting Dec. 25.

• Tyler Mackyeon, 23, charged with deadly conduct and aggravated robbery.

• James Taylor, 24, charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

• Keith Ron Williams, 20, charged with assault-family violence.

In addition, Houston police pinpointed one of the three men still at large as being “violent and extremely dangerous.” He was identified as Ivroy Harris, 22, known as “B-stupid,” wanted for aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping and suspicion of murder.

The other two were identified as Travis Jordan, 23, wanted for aggravated robbery, and Terrance Richards, 22, wanted for evading detention in suburban Webster.

Police Chief Harold Hurtt yesterday released pictures of the three men, asking that the public provide information so they can be apprehended.

“The safety of the city of Houston, the citizens and as well as some of the evacuees, depend on us arresting these individuals as soon as possible,” he said. “We need to get these people off the street.”

Tensions have risen throughout the city’s heavy crime areas since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said one Houston police officer, who added, “some real bad boys have joined us and apparently have picked up where they left off in New Orleans.”

Nine of the homicides occurred on Houston’s southwest side, while the other two were in suburban Pasadena.

“We don’t talk publicly about it,” he said, “but it’s there to see and feel. That’s why the chief formed this special ‘Gang Murder Squad.’ ”

Some of the killings have been gang against gang, he said, but “when they run out of money, that’s when innocent citizens get involved — with carjacks, robberies and kidnappings.”

Violence has risen not only on the streets but in the schools: Houston’s district, which absorbed about 6,000 student refugees, increased security this month after reporting at least a dozen major fights involving displaced students. The worst was a near-riot in a high school lunchroom last month that ended in the arrests of 15 refugees and 12 local students.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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