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We went along as deputies cracked down on dangerous driving in the Houston area. Here's what we saw.

Exclusive: What it looks like when law enforcement officers arrest street racers and break up takeovers.

HOUSTON — Street racing and takeovers have made Houston-area roadways much more dangerous, according to local law enforcement officers.

Last week, officers wrote nearly 2,000 citations during an operation aimed at arresting dangerous drivers and breaking up takeovers. KHOU 11 got an exclusive look at what is happening as we followed officers taking suspected dangerous drivers off the streets.

These are the results from the TX-2K Task Force’s five-night annual operation:

  • Vehicles stopped: 2,072
  • Citations written: 1,944
  • Cars seized: 18
  • Deadly conduct arrests: 11
  • DWI arrests: 61
  • Racing on highway arrests: 57
  • Reckless driving arrests: 44

Many weapons and lots of drugs were seized during the operation but those numbers were not available.

"It’s sometimes referred to as the Super Bowl of racing, but it’s a very dangerous activity," Harris County Sheriff's Office Major Susan Cotter said.

Every year, law enforcement officers from several agencies fan out across the Houston area for five nights in March.

"The Texas 2K is in town and it is a big event that attracts racers nationwide to the Houston area," Cotter said.

They’re called the TX-2K Task Force, a reference to the legal, annual street racing event happening concurrently in Baytown.

This year, KHOU 11 followed the officers on the hunt for drivers who took their fun off the track.

"It’s dangerous," Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Craig Cummings said. "Street racing is dangerous."

Cummings said the incidents are more than meets the eye.

"A lot of people are unaware that there are criminal organizations that are working with these street takeover groups, the street racing groups," Cummings said. "So, when we’re arresting these drivers for street racing or doing a street takeover, a lot of times we’re finding guns, we’re finding drugs. What we’re trying to do is identify those linkages between those individuals in the criminal organizations and those that are out there doing the street takeovers."

The sting

Just before 9 p.m., a large parking lot takeover was reportedly happening outside of a mall in Katy. It was not hard to find because smoke was seen from the freeway.

Hundreds of people converged on a parking lot outside of a JC Penney.

Some brought their cars to show while others were just there to watch. After a few minutes, the noise of the crowd was interrupted by the sound of screeching tires.

People sprinted toward the car doing donuts -- cheering and holding their phones in the air. The crowd moved closer and closer to the vehicle, then the driver stopped. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

As the minutes passed, the crowd continued to grow. Drivers paraded their cars up and down the rows of vehicles while HCSO units made their way to the middle of the crowd.

We followed them as deputies were heckled by some in the group. Deputies told people in the crowd to leave and a handful of people were handcuffed and detained. Some of their vehicles were searched.

"I came out here to enjoy the car meet, see my friends and stuff," spectator Kell Garwin said. "I’m just sad it went out this way, you know? We weren’t doing anything wrong."

Garwin and his friends were among the hundreds who showed up at the parking lot.

"As long as nobody does anything stupid, nobody will get hurt," spectator Elijah Jones said. "I feel like the cops didn’t need to shut us down, it should’ve kept on going."

The mood changed on the freeway. More and more vehicles were stopped by officers. Several vehicles were traveling at very high speeds and some appeared to be racing.

The KHOU 11 news unit was nearly clipped by a car racing up from behind.

At a separate scene near Bush Intercontinental Airport, a long stretch of road covered with tire marks was the site for several races. Deputies said multiple drivers were caught racing just before midnight.

"Individuals come out here with these very powerful vehicles," Cummings said. "And go out racing on the highways. And the vehicles are covering tremendous distances in a very short period of time. So the very sad thing is when somebody loses their life in something like this. That’s the most tragic."

The founder of TX-2K has taken issue with connecting the event to illegal street racing. He said you can’t control what people do on their own time and the event does not condone illegal racing. He said street racing will happen – with or without the event.

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