WASHINGTON — Federal agents arrested dozens of members of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood of Texas on Friday and charged them with murder, kidnapping, racketeering and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.
A 43-page federal indictment unsealed by the Justice Department names 34 members of the violent organized crime group who have been charged, including four of its senior leaders.
“ABT uses extreme violence and threats of violence to maintain internal discipline and retaliate against those believed to be cooperating with law enforcement," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “Through violence and intimidation, ABT allegedly exerts control over prison populations and neighborhoods, and instills fear in those who come in contact with its members."
As an example, Breuer said that alleged ABT leader Kelly Ray Elley and others ordered subordinates to kill a prospective member and to make the killing “as messy as possible" to send a message to gang members not to cooperate with law enforcement. Elley also allegedly ordered gang members to return the man’s severed finger as a trophy.
“Today’s takedown represents a devastating blow to the leadership of ABT," Breuer said.
In an investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, more than 170 law enforcement agents fanned out across Texas and North Carolina on Friday to arrest 14 of the 34 ABT members who were charged. Another 15 were already in custody, and five remain at large.