White Supremacists Are Running Violent Drug Rings in Texas, Officials Says Drug Dealing Is Now Main Cause

Dozens of white supremacist gang members were selling methamphetamine and other illegal narcotics across Texas in a violent organized crime ring, the Department of Justice announced Monday. Officials said they charged 57 members of white supremacist gangs with kidnapping and drug conspiracies. More than 190 kilograms of methamphetamine, 31 firearms and $376,587 in cash was seized during the investigation.

The suspects were members of such groups as Aryan Circle, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Dirty White Boys, officials said. The drug operation operated from October 2015 through April 2018. Officials said they took down 42 of the suspects in an operation last week, while nine others were already in custody at the time on unrelated charges. Six of the suspects remained at large.

"Not only do white supremacists gangs subscribe to a repugnant, hateful ideology, they also engage in significant, organized and violent criminal activity," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice has targeted every violent criminal gang member in the United States. The quantities of drugs, guns, and money seized in this case are staggering."

The case involved the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, the Texas Anti-Gang Center, the Dallas Police Department Criminal Intelligence Unit and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The drug ring was at least occasionally violent. In January and February, four of the suspects kidnaped a victim for several days over a drug dispute, according to the indictment. They allegedly threatened the victim with a pistol and cut off a part of the victim's left index finger with a hatchet.

The bust represents the latest incident of federal investigators targeting violent white supremacist gangs associated with illegal drug trafficking. In 2017, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas announced that 89 gang members had been sentenced in a methamphetamine ring in what he called the largest prosecution in the nation's history of individuals connected to white supremacist gangs. The suspects in that case received a a combined sentence of at least 1,070 years in federal prison. Members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, the Dirty White Boys and other white supremacist gangs were also involved in that operation.

Officials said such hate groups, which long concentrated on spreading white supremacy ideology, have increasingly turned to drug-dealing in recent years. "Each of these gangs are organized crime groups, but in recent years, the white supremacy ideology of each of these groups has taken a backseat to traditional criminal ventures, such as drug-dealing," the Department of Justice said in a 2017 statement.