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April 2, 2013

Suspicion in Texas DA deathshifts to white supremacists

KAUFMAN, Texas (AP) — Two days after a Texas district attorney and his wife were found shot to death in their home, authorities have said little about their investigation or any potential suspects.

But suspicion in the slayings shifted yesterday to a white supremacist prison gang with a long history of violence and retribution that was also the focus of a December law enforcement bulletin warning that its members might try to attack police or prosecutors.

The deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were especially jarring because they happened just a couple of months after one of the county’s assistant district attorneys, Mark Hasse, was killed near his courthouse office and less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by a white supremacist ex-convict.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been in the state’s prison system since the 1980s, when it began as a white supremacist gang that protected its members and ran illegal activities, including drug distribution, according to Terry Pelz, a former Texas prison warden and expert on the gang.

The group is now believed to have more than 4,000 members in and out of prison who deal in a variety of criminal enterprises, including prostitution, robbery and murder.

It has a paramilitary structure with five factions around the state, Pelz said. Each faction has a general, who is part of a steering committee known as the “Wheel,” which controls all criminal aspects of the gang, according to court papers.

Four top leaders of the group were indicted in October for crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking. Two months later, authorities issued the bulletin warning that the gang might try to retaliate against law enforcement for the investigation that also led to the arrest of 30 other members.

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