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.


Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

Updated 54 min 37 sec ago

Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

  • Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents
  • China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city

BEIJING: The last British governor of Hong Kong criticized the Chinese government on Friday over proposed national security legislation, calling it part of an “Orwellian” drive to eliminate opposition in violation of the agreement on handing the territory over to Beijing.
Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents if Beijing goes through with passage of the legislation.
The law is seen as potentially imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech and opposition political activity in the former British colony that was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997. China has denounced the offer of citizenship as a violation of its sovereignty.
“If they’ve broken the (Sino-British) Joint Declaration, if they’ve thrown it overboard, how can they then use the joint declaration as though it stops us doing something that’s a sovereign right of ours?” said Patten, now chancellor of the University of Oxford, in an online talk with reporters.
The declaration is a bilateral treaty signed as part of the handover process. China has essentially declared it null and void, while Britain says Beijing is reneging on its commitments made in the document that was supposed to be remain in effect until 2047.
China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city, which was promised a high level of autonomy outside of foreign and defense affairs.
An earlier push to pass security legislation was shelved after massive Hong Kong street protests against it in 2003. However, Beijing appeared to lose patience after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year that China said was an attempt to split the territory off from the rest of the country.
Patten said the security legislation is unnecessary because Hong Kong’s legal code already includes provisions to combat terrorism, financial crimes and other threats to security.
“What Beijing wants is something which deals with those rather worrying Orwellian crimes like sedition, whatever that may be,” Patten said.
China may also be seeking grounds to disqualify opposition candidates from running in September’s election for the local legislature by accusing them of being disloyal, he said.
Beijing has ignored promises that Hong Kong could democratize of its own accord after the handover, Patten said. The US should unite with other democratic countries to oppose underhanded tactics by Beijing, he said.
“It’s the Chinese Communist Party which attacks us, which hectors, which bullies, which tells companies which have roots in our countries, that unless they do what China wants, they won’t get any business in China,” Patten said. “That’s the way the Mafia behave, and the rest of the world shouldn’t put up with it, because if we do, liberal democracies are going to be screwed.”