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The Aryan Brotherhood, (also known as AB or the The Brand) is a prison gang numbering about 15,000 members in and out of prison. In March of 2006, 4 leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood were indicted for numerous crimes, including murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and racketeering. The FBI has stated that the gang is responsible for up to 18% of murders in the federal prison system.
An Arizona Aryan coat of arms
An Arizona Aryan coat of arms
* 1 Organization and activities
* 2 History
* 3 Relations with other gangs
* 4 References in popular culture
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 External links
 Organization and activities
The Aryan Brotherhood is separated into two main groups, one in the federal prison system, the other consisting of numerous AB factions in various state prison systems, notably California, which are loosely affiliated to a greater or lesser degree. Each faction is controlled by a three-man commission, which controls and supervises gang activities. These gangs in the state system, splinter groups or copycats, are usually tolerated by members of the federal prison or California factions, but inter-gang violence is not uncommon.
Organization at lower levels varies from prison to prison. For example, in the Arizona prison system, members are known as "kindred" and organize into "families". A "council" controls the families. Kindred may recruit other members, known as "progeny", and serve as a mentor for the new recruit.
Membership generally (though not exclusively) consists of white male prisoners and operates on a "blood in, blood out" system. That is, a candidate for membership of the Aryan Brotherhood must assault or kill another prisoner to enter the gang. Membership is for life, and those who attempt to leave the gang may likewise be assaulted or killed by other members. Members of both the federal and state level organizations swear the same oath: "An Aryan brother is without a care/He walks where the weak and heartless won't dare/For an Aryan brother, death holds no fear/Vengeance will be his, through his brothers still here."
Like most prison gangs, Aryan Brotherhood members mark themselves with distinctive tattoos. Designs commonly include the words "Aryan Brotherhood", the acryonym "AB", 666, lightning bolts, spiderwebs near the elbow, shamrocks, and other Nazi and/or Celtic iconography.
Ostensibly organized as a white supremacist group, the AB has since focused on the economic activities typical of organized crime entities, particularly drug trafficking, extortion, and murder-for-hire. According to a recent federal indictment, the Brotherhood has partnered with Asian gangs to import heroin from Thailand. While incarcerated in Colorado in 1996, John Gotti is known to have hired Aryan Brotherhood members to murder a fellow prisoner, although the hit was unsuccessful.
The overwhelming majority of Aryan Brotherhood members were originally sent to prison for crimes not motivated by racial bigotry, such as robbery, drug dealing, and assault, and join the Aryan Brotherhood out of a need for protection or camaraderie. However, members are expected to continue AB activities after being released, and are known to commit hate crimes after joining the gang.
Until the 1960s, most prisons in the United States were racially segregated. As prisons began to desegregate, inmates organized along racial lines. The Aryan Brotherhood is believed to have formed in 1964 at San Quentin State Prison. It may have been derived from or inspired by a previous entity, the Bluebird Gang. In the early 1970s, the Aryan Brotherhood began working closely with the Mexican Mafia and began focusing on drug trafficking and other economic activities.
In 1973, the California branch of the Aryan Brotherhood rejected serial killer Charles Manson for membership, because he refused to kill a black inmate. According to Manson's associate Lynnette Fromme, "The AB want Manson to kill a black because black is black. He will not do this and they are against him."
By 1980, the gang had split into two distinct factions, one within the federal prison system and one within state prison systems. In 1982, an anonymous source gave information to the FBI implicating the Aryan Brotherhood in two high profile murders in the California state prison system. The FBI investigated the gang and its activities through 1989, but no prosecutions followed.
On June 23rd, 2005, after a 20-month investigation, a federal strike force raided six houses in northeastern Ohio belonging to the "Order of the Blood", a criminal organization controlled by the Aryan Brotherhood. Thirty-four Aryan Brotherhood members or associates were arrested and warrants were issued for ten more.
Also in 2005, culminating an eight year investigation, federal prosecutors indicted forty members of the organization, thirty of whom were already incarcerated, for a wide variety of crimes. Prosecuting the gang has been historically difficult, because many members are already serving life sentences with no possibility of parole, so prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for twenty-one of those indicted but have dropped the death penalty on all but five defendants. By September of that year, the nineteen indictees not eligible for the death penalty had plead guilty. The first of a series of trials involving four high level members ended in convictions in July of 2006. Two of the four went through a death penalty hearing and the jury deadlocked. Before sentencing federal prosecutors filed a request that once the sentencing was over, the four would live out their sentences in solitary confinement, banned from communicating with anyone except their attornies. The judge refused to rule on the request, telling prosecutors to file it with the US Attorney General and they immediately withdrew. One was sentenced to four life terms, two were sentenced to three life terms, all without the possibility of parole, and one has yet to be sentenced. Some members are still awaiting trial.
 Relations with other gangs
The Aryan Brotherhood has had a close relationship with the Mexican Mafia since the early 1970s. The gang also has close ties to biker gangs, non-AB white-supremacist prison gangs, such as the Nazi Lowriders, and active white supremacy groups, such as the Aryan Nations and various other groups espousing the ideology of Christian Identity.
Because of their alliance with the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood is antagonistic towards the Mafia's rivals, such Nuestra Familia. They are also hostile towards all gangs with a predominantly nonwhite membership, such as the Black Guerilla Family, the Crips, the Bloods, and El Rukns.