Recent murders in Travis, Bastrop Co. could be cartel-related

Woman was hit and killed on Wolf Lane in Bastrop County on Oct. 31, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Dani Guerrero)
Woman was hit and killed on Wolf Lane in Bastrop County on Oct. 31, 2016. (KXAN Photo/Dani Guerrero)

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Police say a woman first reported to have been hit and killed by a car near Del Valle on Monday died from a gunshot wound.

On Oct. 31 at 4:43 a.m., a passerby called authorities to report a woman lying on the road at the intersection of FM 535 and Wolf Lane.

Arriving deputies determined the woman, identified as Amber Taylor, 28, from Paige, Texas, was dead. An autopsy conducted by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday indicated Taylor died from a gunshot wound. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

Evidence found at the scene suggests the vehicle involved is missing its driver side front window. Police say the shooting may be drug-related.

The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office is working closely with their Travis County counterparts on the investigation, due to how close the murder scene is to the county line and the recent murders in the Del Valle area. The Texas Rangers are also investigating the cases.

Bastrop County says they have seen an increase in drug-related offenses in the past few years. Search warrants have resulted in multiple arrests and confiscation of pounds of drugs. Last month, the sheriff’s office reformed their narcotics team. In the coming weeks, two K9 drug dogs will be added to the team.

Interim Sheriff Rosanna Abreo says she believes the increase in drug violence is because of a cartel and gang infestation.

“I think it’s unfortunately a problem that is plaguing everybody, but it may be just that we’ve not directed our attention to them for a while that [the cartels] have become a little more comfortable,” Abreo said.

She is asking Bastrop County citizens to come to their narcotics unit with any information that could help either the Taylor or the Brown case.

“It’s the smallest of things — a license plate, strange comings and going’s at this location — anything that provides us with the necessary probable cause for suspicion to initiate or follow through with an investigation,” Abreo says. “We can’t really clean up their neighborhoods the way they need to be cleaned up if they can’t trust us enough just to come forward with the information they do have.”

In June, Jessica Brown was murdered. She was gunned down in her car while delivering newspapers in Bastrop. Although deputies say she was not the intended target, it appears her death was the result of a narcotic trafficking territory dispute. While Brown’s death is not related to Taylor’s, investigators say the murders reflect an increase in violence due to narcotic trafficking in the county.

“We know that people have been told who did it and we are desperate for them to come forward.  We know they’re fearful. Jessica was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and it was just so unfortunate,” Abreo said.

Anyone with information on either murders or narcotic trafficking is asked to call the Bastrop sheriff’s office at 512-549-5100.

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