Four leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang were convicted of racketeering, murder and conspiracy charges on July 28, 2006.
After two weeks of jury deliberations, Barry “The Baron” Mills and Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham, were found guilty of ordering attacks against Black inmates from their maximum security cells. Two lower level leaders, Christopher Overton Gibson and Edgar “Snail” Hevle, were convicted of conspiring to murder Black inmates.
From solitary confinement, members of the group communicated with each other by tapping out Morse code on toilets in their cells, shouting ancient Aztec words, using family and friends to pass along demands and passing notes coded in bilateral cipher code, and some written in urine that acted like invisible ink.
The death penalty phase against Mills and Bingham is scheduled to begin in August 15. Sentencing for Hevle and Gibson is scheduled for October; they face 20 years to life in prison. More defendants are scheduled to face trials in Los Angeles later this year.
The trial, the first of several targeting the Brotherhood’s leadership, follows a six year federal investigation alleging that leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood conspired to murder fellow inmates who cheated them on drug deals, snitched to prison officials or otherwise failed to follow orders.
Taken together, the prosecutions form the largest federal capital case since the federal death penalty protocol was revised in the mid-1990s. Of the 40 Aryan Brotherhood members originally charged, 19 have reached plea bargains and one has died.
The Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, founded in the mid 1960’s in California, has built its reputation on violence and intimidation. The gang, known in the prison system as the “Brand,” is involved in drug trafficking, extortion, gambling and protection rackets in federal and state prisons across the country. Increasingly, many of its activities take place outside the prison system as well, including drug dealing and identity theft.
In recent years, prosecutors have used racketeering statues to successfully prosecute members of several prison gangs, including 29 members of the Aryan Circle in Texas, 10 members of the Nazi Low Riders in California and a dozen members of Soldiers of Aryan Culture inUtah.
For more information about the Aryan Brotherhood, the nation’s best known and most violent white supremacist prison gang, see Dangerous Convictions: an Introduction to Extremist Activities in Prisons.