A federal grand jury has indicted 34 alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison-based gang -- including four of its "generals" -- claiming most all of them conspired to participate in racketeering activities on behalf of the white supremacist group and accusing 10 of murder, officials said.
Fifteen of those indicted by the Houston grand jury are already in custody, 14 were arrested Friday, and five are considered fugitives. The lengthy indictment was handed down on October 22 and then unsealed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, according to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was established in the early 1980s in that state's prison system, modeling itself off a similar group of California inmates that formed in the 1960s.
The group's chief concern was initially to protect white inmates and promote white supremacy and separatism, according to court documents, but it has since "alleged to have expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit," the Justice Department said.
"Through violence and intimidation, ABT allegedly exerts control over prison populations and neighborhoods, and instills fear in those who come into contact with its members," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
All but one of the 34 men indicted are charged with racketeering conspiracy, while 10 face murder charges. Those charged with murder could face the death penalty if convicted.
The indictment includes a host of other charges, such as kidnapping, assault, and conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.
Federal officials called the law enforcement effort targeting the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which they describe as an organized criminal enterprise, "a success."
"This multi-year investigation and indictment clearly targets the worst-of-the-worst among the ABT," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris of the agency's Houston office, according to the Justice Department release. "This effort ... sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these criminal enterprises regardless of where they lay their heads."