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Reputed Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Leader and a Fellow Gang Member Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

U.S. Department of Justice February 21, 2014
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

An alleged general of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang and a fellow gang member pleaded guilty today to racketeering charges related to their membership in the ABT’s criminal enterprise, announced 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.

James Francis Sampsell, aka “Skitz,” 44, of Odessa, Texas, and Fredrick Michal Villarreal, aka, “Big Mike,” 35, of Houston, pleaded guilty 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, Sampsell, Villarreal, 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. Sampsell, Villarreal, 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 activities.

By pleading guilty to racketeering charges, Sampsell and Villarreal admitted to being members of the ABT criminal enterprise.

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, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT 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 violated the rules or posed 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, scheduled for October 7, 2014, Sampsell and Villarreal each face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Sampsell and Villarreal are two of 36 defendants charged with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges. To date, 21 defendants have pleaded guilty.

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; 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.

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