HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- In a span of five days, the Harris County District Attorney says more than 100 people were charged with racing their cars or reckless driving.
Last week was the annual Texas 2K drag racing event that drew a crowd to the Houston area. It is a legal event held at the Texas Raceway Park in Baytown.
"You have the legal event, and you have the legal spectators, and then you have people who cross the line, who have the interest, but also don't have any regard for the law or other people's lives," District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
Ogg said the trouble comes from the "spinoffs" of the drag racing event that ran from Wednesday to Sunday.
"We observed racing going on on the highways and on the surface roads of the freeway," Sgt. Matthew Ham with the Houston Police Department said. "People driving at extremely high rates of speed, doing what's called 'fly-bys,' where along the service road people would be lined up, and the vehicles would go by at a high rate of speed. Also, we would see racing where cars would line up, and then they would give a signal to go, and then they would race each other."
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Houston police, the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Precinct 4 and 5 constable's offices, Jersey Village police, and Texas DPS were on the streets looking for the dangerous behaviors.
In addition to the 106 people charged with reckless driving and street racing, Sgt. Ham said they arrested about 100 other people for related crimes like DUI and deadly conduct.
"It went from the mid part of the city out to Katy, down to Pearland up towards 99 and 2920, out to Baytown," Sgt. Ham said.
He also said there were pursuits during some attempts to arrest the drivers and about 50 crashes.
"It is very dangerous when you have souped-up cars, and they're capable of going really fast, and you have vehicles that can go so fast that they've even got parachutes on the back," Sgt. Ham said.
Ogg said they seized at least 10 cars and plan to file the civil paperwork to take them away permanently. She and other law enforcement agencies held a press conference earlier this month announcing that they would be cracking down on street racing and takeovers.
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Ogg said she understands that racing can be fun, but it needs to be done legally.
The Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, which offers a legal racing option, will close in April.
"I'm afraid that the unintended consequence is that we will see more illegal street racing, more attempted parking lot takeovers, and innocent people killed," Ogg said.
While people of all ages are arrested for racing and street takeovers, Ogg said they usually find that young people are behind the wheel when there is a loss of life or serious injury.
"Parents can prevent some of these senseless deaths," Ogg said. "Buying high-powered, high-performance cars for people who have not reached full maturity is just a recipe for disaster."
She said the county has seen an increase in fatalities where a car is used as a weapon. This is not an initiative with an end date.
"Houston is a car-centric town, and we have great freeways," Ogg said. "I don't know that we will ever be finished."
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