Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Membership Is Climbing In North Texas, Law Enforcement Officials Say

aryan brotherhood of texas tattoo.jpg
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An ABT member's tattoo
Every law enforcement agency in North Texas has descended on Kaufman County in the past several days following the murder of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, at their home. The couple was found by a concerned friend around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday night, according to a search warrant obtained by WFAA. Both had been shot multiple times. Their killings come two months after Assistant District Mark Hasse was gunned down early one morning while walking from a parking lot to the courthouse. Witnesses to the Hasse killing reported one or two men, dressed in black and possibly wearing tactical vests, shot the prosecutor before fleeing in a dark brown or silver sedan.

There have been no arrests in the murders, and law enforcement hasn't publicly identified any suspects. But there's rampant speculation in the media that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a prison gang founded in the 1980s, is responsible for the killings, in retaliation for three dozen of their members being federally indicted last year. There's also a good deal of curiosity as to whether the recent killing of top Colorado prisons official Tom Clements is related to the Kaufman County murders. Clements was shot dead at his home on March 19; the prime suspect is Evan Ebel, a 28-year-old alleged white supremacist with a gang called the 211 Crew. Ebel was serving seven years for robbery, with time added on for assaulting a prison guard. He was accidentally released from jail four years early because of an apparent clerical error. Law enforcement officials believe that he may have murdered Clements before fleeing to Texas, where he subsequently died in a shootout with police in Decatur, about 100 miles northeast from Kaufman County.

As the buzz around all three murders continues to reach fever pitch, the Texas Department of Public Safety released their annual Gang Threat Assessment. The DPS found that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas' membership has increased, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where the ABT, along with a gang called Tango Blast, and one called the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, are the most prevalent gangs. DPS also reports a "consistent level of violence and other criminal activity" in the ABT. So what do we actually know about the ABT's structure and their violent history?

Although several media outlets have conflated the two gangs, according to reports from the Department of Justice and the FBI, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is distinct from the Aryan Brotherhood.

"They're definitely not the same group," says Mark Potok, the spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center. "The Aryan Brotherhood was formed initially in 1964 in San Quentin. It went on to become a national group; they've got chapters all over and throughout the prison system, and maybe some people in the Texas prisons as well."

Aryan Brotherhood of Texas began in the early 1980s within the prison system here, Potok says. "It began with a request from some white Texas inmates to the Aryan Brotherhood to start a chapter in Texas and they were refused. We don't know why."

Instead, the ABT formed their own "entirely separate" group, Potok says, and "aren't particularly allies" with the AB.

When it was founded, according to press materials from the Department of Justice, the ABT was primarily concerned with "the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism." ABT members referred to the gang, as they apparently still do, as "The Family." It eventually evolved into two competing factions, each with a rigid hierarchy, each headed by a "general." The five top ABT generals comprised what was called "The Wheel," or what federal court documents rather humorously refer to as a "steering committee."

Other ABT members were classified as majors, captains, lieutenants, sergeants-at-arms and, at the bottom level, soldiers. The feds say full membership is achieved by committing a "blood-tie" (an aggravated assault or a murder) on behalf of the gang. Blood-ties were also rewarded with a coveted ABT patch, which was usually decorated with a sword, a swastika and a crown, along with a lightning bolt design drawn from Nazi SS insignia. Tattoos of swastikas and other Nazi insignia are also reportedly popular within the group. The motto: "God Forgives, Brothers Don't."

The hierarchy within the gang is enforced with violence, law enforcement officials say, as is a rather strict rule against cooperating with law enforcement. One leader, Kelly Ray "Magic" Elley, 37, is said to have ordered the murder of a new recruit, with additional instructions to "make it as messy as possible" to discourage anyone from talking to the authorities. Magic is reported to have ordered the recruit's finger to be severed and returned to him as a trophy. In a separate case from 2010, three ABT members allegedly burned an ABT tattoo off another member with a blowtorch, to punish him for refusing an order.

Last year, the ATF believed there to be about 2,600 ABT members in Texas prisons and another 180 or so in federal prisons. Over time, as the gang grew, it also started to to branch out from the prisons, "expand[ing] its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit," according to the DOJ, including drug dealing and racketeering. Women aren't allowed to be ABT members, but the ones who associate with the gang and commit crimes on their behalf earn the title of "featherwood."

We know all this because of a massive federal indictment level against 34 ABT members in November of last year. The members, who all went by nicknames ("Big Terry," "Chance," "Slick," "Tuff," and "Feathers," to name a few), were charged with a number of offenses including racketeering, assault, attempted murder and murder. Several were also charged with "conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute" meth and cocaine. The indictment was the result of a three-year investigation by the feds and Houston-area police. At the same time the indictment was handed down, 18 ABT members were immediately arrested, including six in Dallas. One of the arrested "majors" was based in Dallas; he's been linked with murder, kidnapping, arson, gambling and drug distribution.

At the time, the feds claimed to have "dismantled" the leadership of the organization. "A conscious effort was made to go after the worst of the worst," FBI Agent Stephen Morris said at a news conference announcing the indictment. "You've heard people talk about how, in order to kill a snake, you have to cut its head off and that's what this team has done."

But whether the ABT was involved in the Kaufman and Colorado killings or not, there's little doubt that they're still very much active in Texas. The DPS gang assessment writes that they're a "tier 2" gang. They're not considered a threat to the border area or border security, the report states, but are still "a prevailing gang that threatens Texas internally
because of its involvement in violent crimes, the methamphetamine business and frequent property crimes."

DPS also states that "some information regarding the gang's relationship with cartels continues to be reported." Law enforcement has been warning since 2010 that white supremacist gangs and Mexican cartels might be crossing their usually strict racial allegiances in order to traffic drugs. DPS states in their report that the relationships between Texas gangs and cartels continues to evolve, as gang membership in Texas as a whole continues to grow.

Lovely. Here's a copy of that enormous federal indictment for your perusal. We expect to have more for you on the ABT later this week.

Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Federal Indictment 2012


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60 comments
DeathBreath
DeathBreath

What fucking idiots.  Having worked in TDCJ-ID for oever twenty-two years, I can assure the public this epidemic has been growing since the late 1980's.  This is nothing more than a manipulative tactic to obtain more high tech toys & remove the civil liberties of citizens.  Do you have the right to drive down the highway without having to submit to a drug dog search?  If a dog alerts, the U.S. Supreme court supports this erosion of personal liberty.  Fuck the U.S. Supreme Court.  


In the past, TDCJ used to dump parolees in several main areas of Texas:  Houston; San Antonio; Corpus Christi; DFW; El Paso; & Lubbock, Texas.  Later, TDCJ started returning offenders to the county where they fell.

Law enforcement agents of all types do one thing, exploit fear.  They are not satiated enough with the pillage obtained from robbing drug dealers through legal means.  Pigs have the upper hand.  Now, they want more.  You think this is the land of the free and the home of the brave?  Think again.  

TDCJ-ID continues to identify & isolate "disruptive gangs" in the state.  The ATF, FBI, and Homeland Insecurity are infants when it comes to gang knowledge when compared with TDCJ-ID.  

 I will give TDCJ-ID the upper hand on this one because they have been photographing & identifying prison gangs for a very long time.  It wasn't until very recently that they started educating Federal fucks, DPS and other agencies.

John Davis
John Davis

Maybe the Green Berets can destroy the ABT to send them a message.

Aaron Dietrich
Aaron Dietrich

Somebody needs to do something fast. The ABT sounds like they are just as vicious as the Mexican drug cartels.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Hell I'd say about half the comments on this blog these days come from their members.

John D'Oh
John D'Oh

But... but.. I thought only illegal Mexicans were responsible for crimes in Texas and were the primary demographic in prisons. That's what all the rednecks on the DMN and Star Telegram comment sections say after all

John Davis
John Davis

Where is Obama on this issue. We need to seriously crackdown on the ABT very hard. Using the Military is a idea. They should show their strong might. ABT are un-American and a threat to stability of America.

Johnny McCright
Johnny McCright

Just out of curiosity, when did Media people gain the ability to obtain a "search warrant"?Freedom of Info,yes, but a search warrant? I call BS on that one.

John Davis
John Davis

Aryan Brotherhood needs to be destroyed. They clearly are starting an insurrection.

Carlos G Beltran II
Carlos G Beltran II

in a related story...Meth labs and Late night Walmart traffic has skyrocketted also...

Aaron Dietrich
Aaron Dietrich

Nice, the ABT are in Alliance with the Mexican Drug Cartels. Thats some great news.

Miguel Ortiz
Miguel Ortiz

Da souf shall rize agennn!! :D *pops off 6-shooters into the air*

SomeDude
SomeDude

Kinda scary that the national aryan brotherhood denied them a chapter, and they had to start their own thing... kinda hints at the aryan brotherhoof finding them too extreme for their tastes....

Notmadeomoney
Notmadeomoney

Why is it referred to as a "white supremacist" gang?  Aside from its' exclusive membership criteria (as though other prison gangs aren't also racially exclusive), I don't see any racist activity from them, just criminal activity.  Is the Mafia an "Italian Supremacist Gang"?  Is the cartel just a bunch of Hispanic supremacists?  I see a group of racketeers and meth dealers and murderers.  

This article even says " Law enforcement has been warning since 2010 that white supremacist gangs and Mexican cartels might be crossing their usually strict racial allegiances in order to traffic drugs. DPS states in their report that the relationships between Texas gangs and cartels continues to evolve, as gang membership in Texas as a whole continues to grow."

I'm not pulling the race card, (especially not that stupid suppressed whites card) I'm really not.  But either refer to everything through a racial lens, or refer to nothing through a racial lens.  I'm tired of particular groups only talking about race when it's about some particular race.

CJ Dylan
CJ Dylan

Guess there's NO shortage of uneducated, inbred meth heads. Lol

Kristi Holder
Kristi Holder

pretty sure the is more to this than we know.. I mean really..

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

So it's only " irresponsible speculation" if it's about a "person of color"(A Saudi..) that is caught with guns and fake CIA badges? 

Nope.. no "irresponsible speculation" here by Eric Libtard Nicholson

Ricardo Paniagua
Ricardo Paniagua

probably because the prison population is always increasing. feed the fire corporate prisons. feed it.

cawnlu
cawnlu

You just reminded me why law enforcement looks down on prison guards...it's pretty obvious why.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

@MushMouth1 You're right. Most of the comments on here come from white racists, but they would be more likely to join the Weather Underground than the Aryan Brotherhood. 

leftocenter
leftocenter

The purpose for existence in the prison system is to protect white inmates.  As you mentioned, all prison gages are racially exclusive.  But, they have adopted nazi symbols that are considered White supremacist.  I don't think this is off the mark -- viewing their ideology through a racial lens. 

But, if they are behind the Kaufman county killings, they are killing middle aged white men.  Strange, but the focus doesn't need to be on which racial tag they are given.

DMZ3
DMZ3

@Notmadeomoney Yeah I think you're right. They seem more like a prison gang affiliated along racial lines (since that's prison for you) rather than white supremacists in a politicized sense.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown because Eric Libtard Nicholson didnt write this dude.


NVRS 2/5 boobs, sort of rehashing old shit here, looking forward to the full write up later this week.  The good thing is, I know Anna has better writing to come this week

leftocenter
leftocenter

I don't think "cantkeepthetruthdown" can keep anything down today...like those pesky facts.

There are strong indications that ABT has MOTIVE for these killings.  There's no speculation -- irresponsible or otherwise. 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@ScottsMerkin Yeah, we thought it'd be good to do an explainer before we get into the other stuff, but you're right. This is gonna be old news for some people. 

I continue to await a clever new acronym for the NV posts. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@leftocenter 

As a matter of fact, yes, I suppose I was trolling cantkeep, who routinely stereotypes and condemns entire subclasses of people based on race, but in this instance seems to be willing to give these particular folks the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I have my suspicions.

Problem with that?

leftocenter
leftocenter

@thecredible hulk  Are you on crack or just trolling?  The discussion is about possible suspects in a major murder investigation, where nothing and no one is off the table. 

"Innocent until proven guilty" is not a sensibility, it's a fundamental legal concept that distinguishes our legal system from many others around the world.  Let's cast a broad net and find, arrest, and charge this bastard(s)...then we can whine about "sensibilites..."

leftocenter
leftocenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown

So, it's irresponsible speculation to look at this HUGE STATEWIDE takedown of ABT members?...smarter to assume it's some random pissed off ex-con?  Yeah...brilliant

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

i ain't normally one to nitpick nobody's spellin', but did you say you write fer a livin'?

JaimesonPaul
JaimesonPaul

@Anna_Merlan @ScottsMerkin Some of the cartel violence against journalists seeps over to the US as well. Since last summer I've been working on a book about the drug trade and when I was traveling along the boarder I was told very sternly to stop asking certain questions and to stay out of certain areas. I've talked to many writers along to boarder town who will flat out ignore some things for fear of their safety.

I'll go back to writing jokey social media post for Dc9 now.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@ScottsMerkin Sure hope not. They'd have a lot of people to go after, in that case. They'd be quite busy. (Also, stop giving my mom stuff to worry about! Goddamn). 

But in all seriousness, that's actually a huge, huge issue for journalists in Mexico covering narcos and cartel violence. 82 journalists murdered in the past 8 years or so, and 18 more apparently kidnapped. Horrible, scary stuff.   

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2012/12/blog-del-narco-mexican-human-rights-commission-82-journalists-murdered-since-05-2521784.html

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan In light of the possible connection to the DA murders, does it ever cross your mind as a writer/reporter that they may come after you for writing or exposing bad things about them?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown lol, Ive had to double check bi-lines sometimes just to make sure Ive got the right person writing what im reading

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