Feds strike at Aryan Broth­er­hood in Cal­i­for­nia pris­ons

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By Sam Stan­ton

SACRA­MENTO — Fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in Sacra­mento say they have struck a blow at the lead­er­ship of the Aryan Broth­er­hood prison gang, out­lin­ing an al­leged con­spir­acy among in­mates in Cal­i­for­nia state pris­ons to or­der mur­ders, over­see nar­cotics sales and ar­range for the smug­gling of nu­mer­ous cell phones to pris­on­ers.

The al­le­ga­tions, contained in court doc­u­ments un­sealed Thurs­day in fed­eral court in Sacra­mento, seek charges un­der the fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing statute against 16 defendants, in­clud­ing two in­mates con­sid­ered to be among the rul­ing “com­mis­sion­ers” of the white su­prem­a­cist gang.

“What we re­port to­day is a very sig­nif­i­cant set­back for the Aryan Broth­er­hood,” U.S. At­tor­ney Mc­Gre­gor Scott said at a news con­fer­ence at his down­town Sacra­mento of­fice Thurs­day, where he de­scribed a se­ries of crimes in­side pris­ons that stretched from Lassen County to Im­pe­rial County.

De­tails in the court doc­u­ments spell out a years­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that tied the prison gang to at least five in­mate slay­ings and or­ders to kill more, say­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors “un­cov­ered and dis­rupted mul­ti­ple mur­der plots tar­get­ing AB mem­ber, AB as­so­ciates and other in­di­vid­u­als who — ac­cord­ing to Aryan Broth­er­hood mem­bers — had vi­o­lated the gang’s ex­pec­ta­tions or code of con­duct.”

DEA in­ves­ti­ga­tors us­ing court-or­dered wire­taps mon­i­tored more than 1,800 phone calls dur­ing the course of the probe, and used in­for­ma­tion from some of the calls to move tar­geted in­mates to safety and, in at least one case, warn a tar­get who was not in prison that he was in dan­ger, the doc­u­ments say.

“Th­ese defendants have participat­ed in con­spir­a­cies to com­mit rack­e­teer­ing, mur­der and drug traf­fick­ing,” a 137-page af­fi­davit from DEA Spe­cial Agent Brian Nehring says, adding that in­ves­ti­ga­tors turned up ev­i­dence the gang was dis­tribut­ing heroin and metham­phetamine from Sacra­mento to South Dakota and Mis­souri.

The gang also con­spired with as­so­ciates out­side prison walls to im­port drugs, cell phones and other con­tra­band into Cal­i­for­nia pris­ons hid­den in boxes of Lit­tle Deb­bie snacks, Fol­gers cof­fee jars and Quaker Oats con­tain­ers, court doc­u­ments say.

One de­fen­dant, a 37-year-old ex-con named Justin Petty, worked for a com­pany called Golden State Overnight and was over­heard on wire­taps plan­ning smug­gling op­er­a­tions with in­mates, court doc­u­ments say.

“Petty de­scribed how he was go­ing to place cell phones, bat­ter­ies, charg­ers, mini hack saw blades, drill bits, ear pieces and other items in­side Lit­tle Deb­bie snacks, in­clud­ing Honey Cakes,” the DEA agent wrote in his af­fi­davit. “Petty also de­scribed other con­tra­band items, which I be­lieve were drugs.

“Petty said the box would be sealed as if it were straight from the ven­dor.”

Prison of­fi­cials intercepte­d the pack­ages af­ter be­ing tipped by in­ves­ti­ga­tors, and court doc­u­ments say the in­mates were later heard on wire­taps spec­u­lat­ing about what had hap­pened to the pack­ages.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also in­cluded a num­ber of un­der­cover pur­chases of heroin and the seizure of other drugs and weapons.

But the most se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions in­volve a se­ries of prison-yard slay­ings that in­cluded the 2015 stab­bing death at Cal­i­for­nia State Prison, Fol­som, of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, a prom­i­nent for­mer mem­ber of the Black Guer­rilla Fam­ily prison gang who was serv­ing six life sen­tences.

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