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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Captain Charged with Illegally Possessing Multiple Firearms

Memphis, TN A high-ranking member of a white supremacist gang was indicted this week for possessing multiple firearms while a felon.

On April 4, 2015, Memphis Police officers responded to a domestic violence complaint. Upon arriving at the scene, officers encountered a woman who came running out of an apartment in emotional distress. She informed officers that her boyfriend, 52-year-old Joseph Shields, was armed with a large firearm and had threatened to kill her. She alleged Shields refused to let her leave their apartment, placed a rifle to her forehead, and threatened to pull the trigger.

Vickers informed officers that Shields was still inside the house and armed with a firearm. Officers subsequently drew their weapons and began giving verbal commands into the apartment for Shields to exit and surrender. Shields refused to comply with the officers’ demands, motivating them to dispatch additional law enforcement personnel to the scene. Officers held the door and continued to give loud verbal commands for the suspect to come out before entering the house and searching for Shields. They discovered a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, two rifles, and numerous rounds of ammunition. But Shields was no longer inside the residence.

Customers at a nearby ice cream stand, Jerry’s Sno Cones, advised officers that they witnessed Shields running from the apartment complex. The witnesses pointed the officers in the direction Shields fled. Officers began travelling in the specified direction and located Shields shortly after. They were able to detain him after a brief struggle.

Shields admitted to law enforcement that he is a captain within the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). An unaffiliated spin-off of the white supremacist prison gang, Aryan Brotherhood, ABT is a violent, Texas-based crime syndicate responsible for multiple murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, as well as drug trafficking.

In addition to confiscating ammunition, a loaded shotgun and two rifles — one of which had been stolen out of Tipton County — officers located a large black gun safe with an unspecified number of additional firearms in Shields’ apartment.

Shields’ case is being investigated by the Memphis Police Department. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean DeCandia is representing the government in this case.

Shields faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines if convicted.

The charges and allegations contained in indictments are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated July 10, 2015