More than 70 white supremacists who are members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas have been imprisoned as part of a years-long federal effort to weaken the gang known for killings, robberies and other crimes.
The incarcerations include five generals, the brotherhood's highest rank, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
The August conviction of James Lemarc Byrd in Tarrant County was considered by prosecutors as a major takedown. Byrd rose to prominence within the gang during his previous time in federal prison, where he ordered inmates stabbed.
The Aryan Brotherhood had grown into one of the most dangerous and racist prison gangs in Texas, according to Southern Poverty Law Center fellow Mark Potok. The SPLC, founded in 1971 in the wake of the civil-rights movement to advocate on behalf of the disenfranchised, monitors a wide variety of organizations throughout the U.S. that it labels as "hate groups" for beliefs or practices that the SPLC says "attack or malign an entire class of people," regardless of whether the group advocates for or engages in violence or other criminal activity.
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Potok said the group "made a practice of being as scary as humanly possible."
A federal task force went after the group on charges including racketeering, conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault in aid of racketeering, firearms offenses and obstruction of justice.
"Never before in the history of law enforcement has the RICO statute been used to take down the leadership of a large prison gang like this," said Steve Lair, a Homeland Security investigator assigned to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas task force.
There has been an increase in violence as the gang restructures, according to Tarrant County prosecutor Lisa Callaghan.
"You get violence up and down the chain in organizations like this," she added.