The Aryan Brotherhood or Brand as they are known in the federal prison system began with incarcerated white prisoners in California who aligned themselves against black and Mexican prisoners in the racial cauldron that existed inside the belly of the beast in the 60s and 70s. The Aryan Brotherhood has been responsible for “race wars”- organized violence against black inmates at federal penitentiaries at USP Marion in Illinois and USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. But despite their racial leanings the AB has become more of a racketeering enterprise over the years. “It’s a criminal organization first and foremost,” a law enforcement official said. “The AB has used murder as discipline. They used murder to keep their members in line and to spread fear and terror amongst the prison population.”
In order to facilitate the transition into an organized criminal enterprise, the Aryan Brotherhood established a formal hierarchy among its membership to control the operations of the gang’s activities. In the early 1980s the Brands most influential members enacted the new structure which was modeled after La Cosa Nostra. At the federal and state levels independent three man commissions were formed to oversee activities at the various prisons the AB controlled. They also enforced guidelines concerning membership. Only the most thorough, brutal and solid white convicts where offered membership. “You can’t sign up for or join the Brand,” the convict says. “They have to pick you to join.”
Prison has a moral and ethical code that differs from the outside world. Being defined an inmate is an offense to Brand members. To them an inmate is someone who will do anything the prison administration wants him to do and will bow down to administrators and prostrate themselves. While a convict, which is the Brand’s ideal recruit, minds his own business and doesn’t bow down to prison officials. “The AB don’t fuck around. I saw an AB member stab this dude ten times and when the guards came he wouldn’t drop the shank.” The convict says. “He stabbed dude in full view of the lieutenant’s office. He wasn’t worried about getting caught. He told the guards he would drop the shank when he was put in his cell at the hole and not a minute before. Crazy, yes?” The top hierarchy of the Brand are stand up guys who don’t do people dirty. But if someone deserves it or they are at the other end of the spectrum they get what they got coming. On the other end of the spectrum at the bottom of the ladder are those that AB members despise- rats, snitches, check-ins, homo’s, chomo’s and punks.
“We’re dealing with an environment that is totally foreign to 99 percent of the population out there,” the convict says. “In the prison culture truth isn’t always regarded as a virtue. There’s a code in every segment of society. We have a different kind of moral and ethical code. It’s a lot more primordial. In your society I may not be anybody, but in here I am.” Most AB members are doing life in prison so they have created organized chaos in the federal system enabling them to enforce their will and edicts on the population at large. By controlling the yards they reside in through violence and murder they have become, in the prison world, pop star like celebrities.
“I don’t consider the Aryan Brotherhood a white supremacist group, although it has only white members,” the law enforcement official said. “Prospective members of the group have to formerly kill someone before joining; this is known as ‘making your bones.’ You don’t want to testify against an AB member, it could mean your life.” The gang has fashioned a ‘do or die’ reputation, as in members follow orders or are in turn dealt with. In the process the group has weeded out its own ranks, so that now only the strongest, most intelligent and cunning have survived.
“The AB is the most lethal killers this country has produced outside of Delta Force,” the law enforcement official said. “With their thick bull necks, massive forearms, tattoos of fierce Vikings, Nazi lightning bolts, a distinctive shamrock, swastikas and 666 they set themselves apart from the rest of the prisoners. Their knit caps are pulled low over their eyes and they wear walrus like mustaches like Old West outlaws. These dudes look scary, not to mention the fact that they can strangle people to death with their bare hands. The AB makes up less than one-tenth of a percent of the inmate population in the federal Bureau of Prisons yet they are responsible for almost 25 percent of the murders.
“These dudes are bad motherfuckers,” the convict says. “They exercise up to four or five hours a day. In their 24 hour lockdown cells doing burpees. It’s like their own little hell. Imagine that, these dudes in their tiny concrete cells, one running in place while the other one’s doing burpees- sort of like a jumping jack mixed with a push up.” Branded with their shamrock tattoo they read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince and hold dear Nietzsche slogans like, “One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.” The AB even has their own maxim, “A brother’s a brother until that brother dies.”
In the federal system they have established ties with jailed Mafia crime bosses like Oreste “Ernie Boy” Abbamonte, “Little Nicky” Scarfo and the late John Gotti, the Teflon Don. Associates from other gangs like the Dirty White Boys, Nazi Low Riders and Mexican Mafia do their bidding. They flood every compound they’re on with heroin, shipping the proceeds back to California to be disbursed between other jailed members and leaders of the gang. The two commissions, one in California, the other in the feds- call the shots. Though never vast in numbers the AB make up for it with their fierceness and violent reputations as their far flung associates that number in the hundreds exert their power trying to further the influence of the gang.
“It’s an environment where only the strong survive. There’s no room for weakness. None.” The convict says. “It takes something to get into and there ain’t no getting out. Fuck no. You’re never going to cripple the AB. Kill one, three more pop up in its place. There’s so many people that want to get in, but you don’t choose them, they choose you. It’s a different life but the AB is treacherous. They can reach out and touch you. I got hold of shanks, drugs. Heroin. Of course they wanted their cut and I gave them their third when I brought in my issue of anything. Of course it’s a white power group but if a nigger got heroin, they do business with the nigger. But if you cell with a nigger you’re dead. They’ll throw you off the third tier after they set your bunk on fire.” The group is not as widespread as some media reports would have the public believe and you can’t believe all the myths either.
“They are not a white supremacy gang.” The convict says. “Next, there are many state prison gangs who have adopted the name Aryan Brotherhood. This gives people the false impression that there is one very large organization or brotherhood of white prisoners who all belong to a gang that is governed by one body and has members in nearly every state and federal prison throughout the U.S. This is totally false. At best, these AB groups are splinter groups that no longer have affiliation with the original Cali AB.” Still, beware and cross the Aryan Brotherhood at your own peril.