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Business group learns about gangs, cartels

By chirst
May 8, 2013 at 12:08 a.m.

Chris Garcia

Upcoming Chamber Events

• WHAT: Newcomers social

• WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Thursday

• WHERE: The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar

• COST: Free hors d'oeuvre, cash bar

• WHAT: Chick-fil-A leadercast

• WHEN: 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday

• WHERE: Parkway Church

• COST: $99

Business men and women came to the Victoria Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday in heels and ties.

They sat at merrily decorated tables - yellow, pink and green napkins surrounded the strawberry shortcake desert and cups of iced tea.

But the images of murdered men, women and children flashing from the projectors kept the atmosphere of the lunch solemn.

"The cartel influence has hit us. It has been with us for the last 10 years, but it has been a sleeping giant. ... Now we are seeing more and more of those influences here," said Lt. Chris Garcia with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. He was the guest speaker at the luncheon.

"It is important for business people to be aware of what is going on, to be aware of the symbolism and the signs. ... the gangsters are out there being consumers and are out in the public, too" Garcia said.

Garcia, a gang expert at the sheriff's office, described the prevalent gangs in Victoria and showed pictures of the gang symbolism to educate the audience. He urged everyone to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Randy Vivian, president of the chamber, said it was an important topic to cover at the monthly luncheon.

"We like to make sure everyone knows what is going on in the community. ... It is an unusual topic for the chamber lunch, but it is also valuable information to know," Vivian said.

Nadine Henschen, student success facilitator for Victoria school district, said she normally does not attend the chamber luncheon but came specifically to hear Garcia's presentation about gangs and cartels.

"How do we turn this around? I don't want to stand here with my head in the sand and just watch it happen," Henschen said. "What I have learned is that my kids are at risk, and I need to pay attention to my kids."

She said knowing what to look for in Victoria's youths will help combat gang activity and report it early.

Henschen believes it would be helpful for Garcia to speak at the schools and give the same presentation to teachers and staff members.

Vivian also announced the May Corporate Business Partner of the month, First Victoria Bank and the Small Business Partner of the Month, VCS Companies.

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