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Press Release

Two Plead Guilty to Involvement in Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Racketeering Murder

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

An Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang member and an ABT associate have pleaded guilty to charges related to the May 2008 murder of Mark Davis Byrd Sr. in Atascosa County, Texas.

The guilty pleas were announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Shane Gail McNiel, aka “Dirty,” 34, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas to the charge of accessory after the fact in the murder of Byrd.  Destiny Nicole Feathers, 24, of Jourdanton, Texas, pleaded guilty to the same offense on Aug. 14, 2013.

According to information presented in court, McNiel was an ABT member and Feathers was associated with the gang, a powerful race-based, statewide organization that operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and elsewhere in the United States.  According to court documents, Byrd, an ABT prospect, was murdered by Jim Flint McIntyre, aka “Q-Ball,” Michael Dewayne Smith, aka “Bucky,” and another ABT gang member for allegedly stealing drugs he was ordered to deliver to a customer on behalf of the ABT. According to court documents, Byrd was murdered as a result of a “discipline” ordered by Frank Lavell Urbish, aka “Thumper,” and his superiors.  Byrd’s body was discovered in Atascosa County on May 4, 2008.  McIntyre, Smith and Urbish each pleaded guilty in 2011 to the racketeering murder of Byrd. 

According to their plea agreements, McNiel and Feathers helped hide a shotgun that they knew had been used to murder Byrd.  Following the murder, Urbish and Feathers drove to McNiel’s house with the shotgun wrapped in a sheet and gave it to McNiel who then hid the shotgun in a metal shed behind his house.  According to court documents, Feathers further assisted McIntyre by disposing of Byrd’s bloody clothing.

According to court documents, 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.  While the ABT was at its inception 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 court documents, 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 members of the ABT.

At sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 30, 2014, McNiel and Feathers each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; 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, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Alvin, Texas, Police Department; Carrollton, Texas, Police Department; Mesquite Texas, Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office;  and the Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 13-947