Aryan Brotherhood Group May Be Linked To Death Of Texas Prosecutor

Texas and federal investigators looking into the dual killings of two Dallas prosecutors are questioning the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. The violent "white power" gang originated in the Texas prison system and carries on a number of illegal enterprises. Robert Siegel talks with Kevin Krause, who covers crime for the Dallas Morning News.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

More now on the group that prosecutors say they're looking into to see if they're linked to the killings in Kaufman County. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is a white supremacist gang. Reporter Kevin Krause has written about them for The Dallas Morning News, and he joins us now from the paper's headquarters. Welcome to the program.

KEVIN KRAUSE: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Tell us, first, what the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas might have to do with prosecutors in Kaufman County.

KRAUSE: Well, in October, prosecutors in Houston had 34 members of the gang indicted, and it was until to November. And it was a fairly big hit to the gang. This involved a multijurisdictional taskforce that included the Kaufman County DA's office. And among those who were indicted were some from up here in the Dallas area.

SIEGEL: Was the Kaufman County DA, Mr. McLelland, or his assistant, Mark Hasse, were they especially prominent in the investigation, or is the county especially a hotbed of Aryan Brotherhood of Texas activity?

KRAUSE: The county - it's a rural county. There is a big meth problem, and, yes, they do have a fairly sizable problem with the Aryan Brotherhood. The prosecutor who was murdered in January, Hasse, we're told that he wasn't really involved heavily in prosecuting these cases, but the office was. And the DA sort of took pride in that and even acknowledged, weeks before he was killed, that they had put a dent in the organization's activities in Kaufman County.

SIEGEL: Now, this is a prison gang to begin with, isn't it? I mean, tell us a bit about the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and how it operates.

KRAUSE: Sure. Well, it basically grew out of the Texas prison system in the early 1980s. And it was loosely modeled after the Aryan Brotherhood gang based in California. Primarily, they were formed in order to provide protection to white inmates in the state prison system. Also, they do have a white supremist ideology, but they've been known to work with Mexican drug gangs and they've - in addition to dealing drugs, they also deal in firearms and stolen vehicles. There's some gambling involved as well.

So although it began behind bars in the prison system, it has since expanded to outside the prison walls. And when members are released from prison, they are expected to go and immediately report to officers on the outside and take part in the organization's list of - various list of crimes, which primarily includes the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

SIEGEL: Do law enforcement officials regard the leadership of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas as being on the outside or being inside the prisons of Texas at this stage?

KRAUSE: The organization operates both inside the prison system and outside. And it's likely that the top generals are currently incarcerated, but they're able to easily get their orders executed through contacts on the outside and recently released parolees. It can easily and has in the past had fellow gang members murdered for snitching or for stealing drugs, things like that. Most of the violence has been on rival gangs and on their own members.

SIEGEL: Now, do we know how intense the investigation of the Aryan Brotherhood is now in these cases out of Kaufman County?

KRAUSE: Well, there's definitely indication that they are a pretty key focus. There was a email that was circulated from the U.S. Marshals Service that indicated that the Aryan Brotherhood is a key focus of the investigation. However, there really hasn't been any solid evidence to come forward linking these murders to the prison gang. So they are definitely being looked at, but they are one of possibly many different angles that are being explored.

SIEGEL: Kevin Krause, thank you very much for talking with us today.

KRAUSE: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Kevin Krause, reporter for the Dallas Morning News.

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