HOUSTON — The remaining two defendants of 36 accused in the Southern District of Texas of racketeering activities as part of their roles with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) have pleaded guilty, capping a six-year sweeping effort that led to 73 convictions across five federal districts and the decimation of the gang's leadership and violent members and associates.
Those convicted were charged with involvement in a criminal organization that engaged in murders, kidnappings, brutal beatings, fire bombings and drug trafficking.
The following agency heads announced these final pleas: U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Robert W. Elder of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)'s Houston Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI's Houston Field Division; and Special Agent in Charge David M. Marwell of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Dallas.
"Today, public safety is the winner," said Magidson. "A significant blow to the ABT criminal activities culminated today with the convictions of all 36 as charged in relation to this significant racketeering activity. Only with a coordinated federal, state and local law enforcement effort, could these criminals' extensive and heinous gang activities be brought before the bar of justice."
"The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas launched its murderous and racist ideology within the Texas prisons, but unleashed a violent crime wave that jumped the prison walls and spread like a virus," said Caldwell. "Today we are announcing sweeping convictions that strike at the heart of the ABT gang: 73 convictions in five federal districts, including the five active generals who ran the organization with an iron fist. These convictions will ensure that these ABT gang members, from generals to soldiers, spend their years in federal prison paying for their crimes, not committing new ones."
"Joint investigations like this keep the organized criminal element in check," said Marwell with HSI Dallas. "They keep these violent criminal gangs looking over their shoulders. They keep these gangs operating from the outside fringe of society from the back alleys."
Rusty Eugene Duke, of Dallas, pleaded guilty Aug. 13 before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity. Tammy Melissa Wall, of Otto, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the same charge Aug. 6. Duke and Wall are two of 36 defendants charged in the Southern District of Texas with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges. With Duke's plea today, all 36 defendants have pleaded guilty.
The 36 convicted are part of a larger, six-year effort that has led to the conviction of 73 ABT members and associates in cases brought in the Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Texas, Western District of Texas, Northern District of Texas, and Western District of Oklahoma.
"Today marks a great day for the citizens of Texas," said Elder. "As they go about their daily lives, they can rest easier knowing that law enforcement across the state is working tirelessly to keep them safe from violent criminals. Finally, this investigation is a great example of ATF's Frontline Model, which seeks to go after the very worst offenders by maximizing all of our resources."
"While these convictions have dealt a serious blow to the gang, there are always others waiting to take their place in the organization," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Turner. "We have a message for them too: Violence and intimidation will not rule the streets of Houston. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue gang leaders and their associates at every level to ensure the safety of our communities."
Court records and admissions by the defendants have exposed the ABT as a race-based, Texas state-wide organization operating inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and the United States. Established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system, the gang modeled itself after, and adopted many of the precepts and writings of, the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. The ABT was primarily concerned with protecting white inmates and promoting whites as a superior race. The ABT used murder and the threat of murder to enforce its rules within the gang and maintain a position of power inside and outside of prison. Over time, the ABT expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit. Once released from prison, ABT members and associates continued to engage in criminal activity on behalf of the enterprise.
Court documents portray the ABT as a highly structured organization run by five generals, each of whom oversees one of five geographic regions of Texas and sits on a steering committee. Each general supervises two chains of command – one on the "inside" and one on the "outside" of prison. Reporting to each general is an "inside major" and an "outside major," and each major oversees several captains, lieutenants and sergeants-at-arms and numerous soldiers.
In this prosecution, all five active ABT generals have been convicted as well as one "acting" general and one former general and founding member. In addition, the majors, captains and other leaders of the gang from each of the five regions – including Duke – were convicted.
ABT enforced its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, arson, assault, robbery and threats against those who violated ABT rules or posed a threat to the enterprise. Members, and often associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, referred to as "direct orders." For example, according to court records, ABT leaders ordered a subordinate to kill a rogue ABT prospect and return the victim's severed finger as a trophy; they engaged in planning to kill a police officer, and ordered the murder of an individual whom the ABT believed had stolen drugs from the enterprise.