After a six-year investigation and a sweeping indictment naming dozens of suspects, federal authorities declared they have "decapitated" the notoriously violent prison gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
The final two defendants snared in the long criminal probe have pleaded guilty, prosecutors announced, capping a wide-ranging case that led to 73 convictions and decimated the gang's leadership.
"All five of the active generals for each of the regions, one for each of the regions, have been prosecuted, convicted and will spend long sentences in federal prison," said Marshall Miller, principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice Criminal Division.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a highly structured white-supremacist gang, emerged in Texas prisons during the early 1980s. As convicts involved in the gang during its formative years finished their sentences, they carried their criminal enterprises into the free world as an organized crime group often controlled from inside prison walls.
"The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas – or ABT – launched its brutal, murderous and racist ideology from within the prisons of the state of Texas," Miller said. "Unfortunately, ABT then unleashed a violent crime spree that jumped the prison walls and infected communities."
An indictment unsealed in 2012 drew a detailed portrait of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas as a sophisticated organized crime group with a military-style structure and a written constitution widely circulated in Texas prisons. The group's leadership routinely used murder, kidnappings, arson and severe beatings as enforcement tactics, the indictment said.
"You name it," Miller said. "Drugs, kidnappings, assaults, murders attempted murders. They ran the gamut."
The indictment makes the Aryan Brotherhood looks less like a prison gang than a classic organized crime syndicate with military titles. Five generals control five different regions of the state, authorities said, with each general controlling two separate chains of command – one inside prisons and one in the free world. Each general has an "inside major" and an "outside major" overseeing several captains, lieutenants, sergeants-at-arms and soldiers.
All five active generals have been convicted, authorities said, along with one "acting" general and a former general who was also a founding member of the gang. At a news conference attended by law enforcement authorities from some of the dozens of agencies that worked on the case, officials displayed a poster showing where each of 36 defendants swept up in the latest indictment fit into the group's organizational structure.
"Today was the plea of the last defendant in the case," said Ken Magidson, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. "So all 36 defendants in the indictment have been convicted."
Only three of the gang members have been sentenced, facing prison terms of 10 to 30 years. A woman associated with the gang was sentenced to 6 ½ years. The rest of the defendants are scheduled for sentencing in October.