Eight Hurricane Katrina refugees who are members of rival New Orleans gangs were arrested in connection with 11 recent murders and other violent crimes, Houston police said Friday.

Investigators with the newly formed Houston Police Gang Murder Squad said they are still looking for three suspects.

"The safety of the city of Houston, its citizens and as well as some of the evacuees depends on us arresting these individuals as soon as possible," Police Chief Harold Hurtt said.

The Houston-area crime rate spiked sharply in the last few months of 2005, and police officials have attributed some of that to Katrina refugees.

The 11 suspects are also accused of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.

Nine of the murders happened in the city's high-crime southwest side, while the other two were in the Houston suburb of Pasadena. All the murders have occurred since November.

Authorities said they believe the killings can be attributed to rival gangs who have set up shop in Houston after evacuating New Orleans following the Aug. 29 hurricane.