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Houston Must Love New Orleans
Phrobis
interdictor
A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to Texas.

Again.

It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas.

"I don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said.

Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas, as Houston is finding out.

Houston took in 150,000 evacuees _ the most of any U.S. city _ after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Houston police believe the evacuees are partly responsible for a nearly 17.5 percent increase in homicides so far this year over the same period in 2005.

About 21 percent of Houston's 232 homicides through July 25 involved an evacuee as either a suspect or a victim, according to police, who attribute much of the bloodshed to fighting among rival New Orleans gang members.

"New Orleans allowed a lot of these guys to stay on the street for whatever reason or be picked up and released after 60 days," said Capt. Dale Brown, who oversees Houston's homicide division. "Texas law, I don't want to say it's tougher, but we take these offenses very seriously."

Judge Robert Eckels, chief executive of Harris County, which includes Houston, said Katrina evacuees arrested in the Houston have cost the county's criminal justice system more than $18 million. In June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent $19.5 million to Houston to help pay for additional officers and overtime to police the city after Katrina.