Fourteen alleged members of a white-supremacist prison gang have been indicted on federal racketeering charges in Mississippi, prosecutors said on Thursday, a week after similar charges against 11 alleged participants in an Oklahoma gang were unsealed.
The cases, together with major busts of the Aryan Brotherhood in Texas earlier this year, represent an effort by federal prosecutors to eliminate the network of white-power gangs that they say represent a major power in prisons.
"The Aryan Brotherhood is a violent gang that has seeped from behind prison walls into communities throughout this nation," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a written statement.
"We are targeting and dismantling these gangs from the top general to the foot soldier so they can no longer terrorize our communities," Caldwell said.
All 25 defendants are in custody, prosecutors said.
Both the 10-count Mississippi indictment and the four-count Oklahoma indictment describe gangs with militaristic hierarchies: the Universal Aryan Brotherhood of Oklahoma is headed by a "Main Council," while the Aryan Brotherhood of Mississippi is run by a three-member panel known as "the wheel."
The Mississippi indictment, handed down on Oct. 23, charges the defendants, which it says includes the gang's four most senior members, with involvement in murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, gun trafficking and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
The Oklahoma indictment, issued on Nov. 5, includes charges of drug conspiracy, kidnapping and maiming. It accuses five defendants of holding down a fellow gang members and burning off his neck tattoo with a hot knife as punishment for failing to supply drugs to the gang.
According to the Mississippi indictment, recruits must be sponsored by a member, serve a six-month probationary period during which time they are referred to as "prospects," and ultimately declare a lifetime commitment to the gang.
The two gangs are modeled after the California-based Aryan Brotherhood, founded in the 1960s, prosecutors said, with members operating inside and outside of prison.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Mohammad Zargham)