Three US justice officials who tackled white supremacist prison gangs have been killed. Originally formed to fight other gangs, these groups are now accused of a range of criminal activities on the outside, from drug smuggling and kidnapping to murder. How did neo-Nazi prisoners set up huge criminal networks?
By Jon Kelly BBC News Magazine, Washington DC
With skinhead haircuts and swastika tattoos, their leaders are buried deep within the brutal confines of America’s penitentiaries.
But three murders in less than three months have shone a spotlight on far-right prison gangs, whose empire of drug-dealing, racketeering and murder extends well beyond the walls and barbed wire around them.
The bodies of Kaufman County, Texas, district attorney Mike McLelland, 63, and his wife Cynthia, 65, were found on Saturday.
McLelland’s deputy, Mark Hasse, was killed in January, on the same day it was announced that their office was pursuing a racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a white supremacist group formed in Texan jails.
Police are investigating whether their deaths were linked with the killing of Tom Clements, Colorado’s head of prisons.
The chief suspect in that case, ex-convict Evan Ebel, is said to have belonged to the 211 Crew, another violent racist prison gang. Official documents state his body was covered with Nazi-themed tattoos. Ebel died in a shoot-out two days after Clements.
While the killings remain unsolved, they have focused attention on the increasingly dangerous white supremacist networks formed in prison.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors hate in the US, describes the ABT as “the most violent extremist group in the United States”. It says the gang, thought to have around 2,000 members, has committed “at least” 29 murders in the US between 2000-12.
Its primary objective has moved beyond conducting turf wars inside jails or propagating racist ideology, however, into running a ruthless Mafia-style organised crime network.
An FBI indictment in November 2012 charged 34 ABT members with three murders, several attempted murders, assault, kidnapping and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. According to court papers, the ABT has a tightly organisational structure composed of five regions, each run by a “general.”
“If you look at domestic extremist groups in the US, they are responsible for more homicides than anyone else, although most are crime-related, to do with insubordination or revenge or against those who owe them money,” says Brian Levin, director of California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
Of the confirmed ABT murders from 2000-12, the ADL estimates that 41% were “internal killings”.
Continue Reading @ BBC News
- Brandon Darby: FBI Documents Reveal Aryan Brotherhood Of Texas Working With Mexican Drug Cartel (patdollard.com)
- Aryan Brotherhood May Be Tied to Murder of Texas Prosecutor (usnews.com)
- The Aryan Brotherhood and the Prison-gang Problem (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Is the Aryan Brotherhood Behind Tarrant Crimes? (hispanicbusiness.com)