Leaders of white supremacist prison gang charged in killings

In this Aug. 17, 2011, file photo, a correctional officer works at one of the housing units at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif. (AP)
Updated 07 June 2019

Leaders of white supremacist prison gang charged in killings

  • Prosecutors said one victim was a longtime leader of a rival black gang, killed just days after he was released from decades of solitary confinement

SACRAMENTO, California: Leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang were charged Thursday with directing killings and drug smuggling from within California’s most secure prisons, US prosecutors said.
The charges detail five slayings and accuse an attorney of helping smuggle drugs and cellphones to aid the white supremacist gang.
Sixteen Aryan Brotherhood members and associates are accused of running the criminal enterprise using contraband cellphones, encrypted chats, text messages, multimedia messages and email.
Among them are nine current inmates charged with racketeering, conspiracy and other charges, and seven people outside prison accused of assisting the gang in activities in Las Vegas and as far east as Missouri and South Dakota.
“What started as a seemingly simple drug buy on the streets of Sacramento led us into the dark, nasty and brutally violent underbelly of the California prison system,” said Christopher Nielson, local special agent in charge with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “Notoriously dangerous inmates aren’t necessarily thwarted by prison walls.”
Sacramento-based US attorney McGregor Scott called the charges “a very significant setback for one of California’s most notorious prison gangs.”
Prosecutors said one victim was a longtime leader of a rival black gang, killed just days after he was released from decades of solitary confinement. The other four were Aryan Brotherhood associates, killed for not following the rules.
Despite its racist philosophy, the Aryan Brotherhood had a drug smuggling partnership with the Mexican Mafia, prosecutors said.
Among the inmates charged is Daniel “Danny” Troxell, 66, a convicted killer serving a life sentence who was known for writing a federal complaint in 2009 that eventually led California to curb the use of solitary confinement.
He formed an unusual cease-fire alliance with leaders of other blood-rival gangs to promote the complaint. It eventually led to hundreds of gang members and associates being released back into the general prison population, where investigators say some committed new crimes.
Prison officials said it’s difficult to keep up with the changing tactics of gangs behind bars.
“The gangs evolve, their techniques evolve and they change,” California Corrections Secretary Ralph Diaz said. “We will adapt and move along with them
Black Guerilla Family leader Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, a killer with ties to the 1960s black revolutionary movement, was among those released after 45 years in isolation.
Two Aryan Brotherhood associates, acting on the orders of gang leaders, killed the 71-year-old Pinell days after he was moved in 2015 to a Sacramento-area prison, prosecutors say.
Pinell became infamous as a member of San Quentin 6, helping slit the throat of prison guards during a failed 1971 escape attempt that left six dead.
Troxell and Pinell long denied being gang members. Most of the defendants did not yet have legal representation for the counts unveiled Thursday.
The charges also allege that cellmates Ronald “Renegade” Yandell, 56, and William Sylvester, 51, used smuggled cellphones to direct heroin and methamphetamine trafficking operations in California
Yandell, serving a life sentence for a double murder, is described as one of the gang’s three-member leadership commission, as is Troxell.
La Palma attorney Kevin Macnamara is charged with trying to smuggle methamphetamine, tobacco and cellphones. Guards reported finding three phones, plastic wrappers and power cables concealed in the seat cushion of Macnamara’s wheelchair.
Macnamara, 39, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and the voicemail box on his phone was full.
“We have a long way to go in this case,” said defense attorney Candice Fields, who represents Kristen Demar, 44, who is charged with posing as Macnamara’s paralegal to help smuggle contraband.
“With all of the moving parts it is impossible to say right now how things will turn out,” Fields said.
Authorities have been trying to bring down the Aryan Brotherhood — also known as The Brand — for decades.
The gang was formed by white inmates in the mid-1960s and has a policy of “blood in, blood out,” holding that full members must kill to gain entry and can only leave when they die, though authorities said there are exceptions. Members who don’t kill when ordered to do so risk being slain themselves.


Philippine police say will arrest anyone flouting vaping ban

Updated 20 November 2019

Philippine police say will arrest anyone flouting vaping ban

  • The ban came days after Philippine health authorities reported the nation’s first vaping-related lung injury
  • The devices are already banned in several places such as Brazil, Singapore, Thailand and the US state of Massachusetts

MANILA: Philippine police were ordered Wednesday to arrest anyone caught vaping in public, just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarettes.
The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late Tuesday adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than tobacco smoking.
Duterte, a former smoker, called the devices “toxic” and said vaping introduced “chemicals” into the user’s body.
He ordered the arrest of anyone vaping publicly in a country that already has some of Asia’s toughest anti-smoking rules.
No formal, written order has been made public that spells out the scope of the ban or penalties for violations.
Duterte is notorious internationally for his deadly anti-narcotics crackdown, but he has also targeted tobacco with a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public.
Citing “the order of the president,” on Wednesday a statement from the head of the Philippine police ordered “effective today, all police units nationwide to enforce the ban on use of vapes; ensure that all violators will be arrested.”
The ban came days after Philippine health authorities reported the nation’s first vaping-related lung injury, which resulted in a 16-year-old girl being hospitalized.
Vaping has taken off in the Philippines, with speciality shops and vapers puffing away in public a common sight.
E-cigarette users were caught off guard by the ban and questioned the utility of arresting people who, at worst, were hurting themselves.
“It’s inappropriate. In any case, we don’t hurt people, the environment or animals,” said 22-year-old student Alexis Martin.
“Why are vapers being targeted?”
E-cigarettes warm flavored liquid to produce vapor that is free of the estimated 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, but does contain a number of substances that could potentially be harmful.
Critics say that apart from being harmful in themselves, the multiple exotic flavors of e-cigarette liquids appeal particularly to youngsters and risk getting them addicted to nicotine.
The devices have become hugely popular in the past decade but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the United States is feeding caution about the product, already banned in some places.
In September 2019 India became the latest country to ban the import, sale, production and advertising of e-cigarettes, citing in particular concerns for its youth.
The devices are already banned in several places such as Brazil, Singapore, Thailand and the US state of Massachusetts.