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Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri Delivers Remarks at the Houston Violent Crime Initiative Press Conference


Houston, TX
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Last year, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice came here to Houston and announced our Violent Crime Initiative, which is conducted in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, along with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We promised that we would take on gangs that terrorize Houston residents by surging tools and resources here that we use to investigate and prosecute violent crime nationally. Together with our partners, we made clear that we would complement our prosecutorial efforts with community engagement, because we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. The Criminal Division’s Violent Crime Initiative is a holistic approach to combatting violence, designed to ensure that the worst offenders are prosecuted and that the voice of the community is heard.

One year later, that is exactly what we have done. Five dedicated prosecutors from the Criminal Division, as well as prosecutors from United States Attorney’s Offices have been working in Houston on this initiative on a full-time basis. We are working shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, the District Attorney’s Office, and our law enforcement partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Houston Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Harris County Sherriff’s Department. 

As you can see, we are producing results. The charges we are announcing today, along with the substantial seizure of drugs and guns, demonstrate our resolve in bringing to justice those who have terrorized neighborhoods in southeast and southwest Houston with unrelenting violence, and poisoned the community with fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other deadly drugs. 

Today’s charges expand on our announcement in March, when we indicted six members and associates of the notorious 103 Gang for allegedly murdering an innocent bystander as part of an ongoing gang war. 

But we have more work to do, and we will continue to dedicate our time, resources, and expertise to expand our progress. Right now, our prosecutors and agents are pursuing the worst offenders: those who engage in acts of violence; those who order acts of violence; and those who flood southeast and southwest Houston with the deadliest drugs. And we will continue to show the results of that pursuit.

Today’s indictments are an example of what our talented public servants can do — targeted, high-impact casework against the most dangerous criminal organizations in Houston.

And our efforts extend beyond these investigations. We are also fully committed to engaging with the community directly. I would like to introduce my colleague Tammy Reno, Senior Counsel with Access to Justice (ATJ), who is here today. ATJ is a standalone agency within the Department of Justice whose mission is to ensure that all communities have access to the promises and protections of our legal systems by increasing the availability of legal assistance and supporting public defense. ATJ will be an important part of our work here in Houston, as they have been in other cities across the United States to promote confidence in the justice system. For us, promoting confidence includes being part of the community we are serving.

We have made return visits to the historic Cuney Homes in the Third Ward to engage with residents and bear witness to the terrible impact of violent crime on their community, and also to hear directly from community members about their ideas on how we should all collectively tackle the problem. And we will continue spending time in southeast and southwest Houston so that the residents who live there get to know us and we get to know them.  This time is essential to building trust within the community. 

A driving principle of the Criminal Division’s Violent Crime Initiative is that we work with the community directly to try to address the root causes of crime. That we look not just to enforcement, but also to prevention, reentry, and rehabilitation. And we will continue to do so in southeast and southwest Houston, including the Third Ward, and beyond.

Other components within the Department of Justice share our commitment to advancing prevention, intervention, and reentry efforts. For example, the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims, and uphold the rule of law. OJP currently has more than $10 million in active grants to community-based organizations right here in Houston. The federal grants have supported violence prevention, intervention, and re-entry programs required to combat violence, including gang violence. And, in the coming weeks, OJP will be announcing their Fiscal Year 2023 grant awards, including some that will support organizations right here in Houston.

We were pleased to have our colleagues from OJP come to Houston earlier this year to provide in-person guidance to organizations interested in applying for federal grants, and we encourage our local community partners to pursue federal funding to support the critical work that they do here in Houston, including in the Third Ward. 

But make no mistake — the Criminal Division will never stop being vigilant in our pursuit of justice, particularly for victims of violent crime.  The announcement of today’s indictments is not the end of our efforts or our commitment, but just the beginning. Our work with our outstanding partners to make our communities safer continues.

Violent Crime
Updated September 7, 2023