Two members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang (ABT) pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to their membership in the ABT’s criminal enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Ben Christian Dillon, aka “Tuff,” 40, of Houston, and James Marshall Meldrum, aka “Dirty,” 40, of Dallas, each pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.
According to court documents, Dillon, Meldrum and other ABT gang members and associates, agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang. Dillon, Meldrum and numerous ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other things.
Dillon and Meldrum admitted to being ABT gang members and engaging in multiple acts in support of the criminal enterprise. Dillon admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine, acting as an enforcer to collect drug debts owed to the ABT enterprise, committing acts of arson for the gang and attempting to kill a fellow ABT gang member who had been marked for death by senior ABT officials. Meldrum admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine and severely beating a subordinate gang member.
According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to the superseding indictment, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.
Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”
According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for ABT membership, a person must be sponsored by another gang member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.
At sentencing, Dillon and Meldrum each face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Dillon’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 24, 2013, and Meldrum’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26, 2013.
Dillon and Meldrum are two of 34 defendants charged in October 2012 with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges.
This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department; Alvin, Texas, Police Department; Carrollton, Texas, Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; and the Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.