A seven-day series of reports by NBC 5's media partners at The Dallas Morning News examines how the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a notorious white supremacist group, was essentially dismantled in 2014 after a six-year federal investigation led to dozens of arrests.
The series, called "My Aryan Princess," went online Tuesday and will appear on the front page of the paper beginning on Sunday.
Reporter Scott Farwell gained unprecedented access into the brotherhood and some of the key players who helped bring down the organization.
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He spent 18 months pulling back the curtain, sifting through stacks of evidence, including surveillance photos and disturbing images of ABT gang members.
One such image, of a little girl dressed for a ballet recital, still gives him pause.
"Pure and innocent and fresh-scrubbed and entitled to a carefree life," he said of Carol Blevins, now 38 years old.
"She was probably the key confidential informant that allowed the feds to put together this landmark case," Farwell said. "She's just a kid from Plano, just a junkie from Plano, and she just wants to be needed, understood." Farwell said.
Blevins, the so-called Aryan Princess in his series, trusted Farwell with the harrowing details about her three years spent as a confidential informant during the federal ABT probe.
Farwell said Blevins will never escape from hiding. She was responsible for bringing down James "Skitz" Sampsull, the most powerful general in the nation's most violent prison gang – a gang whose tentacles reached beyond prison walls.
"She laid her life bare as a confidential informant, revealing a complete hierarchy of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. This is generally regarded a death sentence by federal prosecutors and by people who are in the gang," Farwell said.
Despite the incredible risk, Blevins felt her story needed to be told, and it was Farwell's intuition that led him to her.
As a 15-year veteran reporter at The Dallas Morning News, Farwell had sources and he worked them. He eventually entrusted confidential informants – federal agents on the case, attorneys, analysts – and says with each passing day the inside story about the ABT take down kept getting bigger and better.
"The more I learned, the more complex it was, the more I felt like there was really a story about being human in there," he said.
That humanity was expressed through the raw and gritty images and words in a chilling video testament Farwell produced. He interviewed Blevins, along with the man who introduced her to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
"Kidnapping, they talk about kidnapping between each other like it's nothing. Like having somebody in the closet is nothing to them," Blevins told Farwell. "Murder, if it's ordered it's nothing to these guys. They're so loyal, and that's I think the scariest part, how loyal they are and you don't cross them."
"Back in the day we would get tattoos of our shield. If you didn't hold up or you got exed, I'd come peel your patch off of you. So if you got it tattooed, you can imagine I'm going to skin a chunk of your side," said Michael Bianculli, a former confidential informant, in Farwell's video.
Farwell said it's a savage, tragic life and one Blevins will be paying for the rest of hers.
"She's not a heroine, not a martyr. She's somebody who did the right thing maybe for the wrong reasons kind of thing, but she'd do it again," Farwell said of Blevins. "There's no question that Carol has saved many lives. The question is whether she can save her own life."
It's a story of an Aryan princess who, Farwell says, is still struggling to find her place – a woman who revealed more than just her ties to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Farwell says she also revealed the emotional truth.
He's hopeful his 18-month journey and seven-part series will help others see the shared humanity in it all.
"That they understand in a place that makes them uncomfortable in their gut, the savagery of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, the stand-up guys who took them on over six years and the strike they made against them and how we all really our lives are better for it," said Farwell.
The Dallas Morning News is telling the story of "My Aryan Princess" on its website. The story will also appear in printed editions over seven consecutive days beginning Sunday, April 30.