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Throat-Stabbing and Tattoo Removal by ‘Flaming Log’

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On Thursday, federal authorities announced the conviction of a Texas man and a Missouri man in a federal RICO case against members of Neo-Nazi prison gang the Aryan Circle. The indictment describes crimes attributed to the gang that include murder, stabbings, kidnappings, and burning off one another’s gang tattoos with flaming logs and hot metal pipes.

“Today’s verdicts keep two violent white supremacists from wreaking havoc and hate on the streets of America,” said Fred Milanowski, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Houston, in a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas.

The convictions stem from an indictment originally filed in October 2020 that named a dozen alleged Aryan Circle members with nicknames like Turbo, Bear, Big Kev, and Aryan Prodigy. Several of the original defendants took plea deals; some even turned State’s witnesses. In the end, only two defendants faced the jury.

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William Glenn Chunn, also known as “Big Head,” 39 — who the Justice Department described in a press release as one of the nation’s top Aryan Circle leaders — and Jesse Paul Blankenship, or “JP,” 38, were both found guilty of conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise. The jury added an enhanced penalty for Chunn for an attempted murder, and convicted Blankenship on two additional counts of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Court documents offer insight into the inner workings of the gang, describing the Aryan Circle as a “violent, race-based, whites only” gang that started in the 1980s in Texas and whose hundreds of members operate inside prisons across several states as well as in what the gang refers to as the “free world,” outside of jail. The organization has a militaristic structure and chains of command, with several branches in different states and prison systems, as well as a biker subgroup. Members refer to it as the “family” and are required to attend monthly gang meetings known as “church,” where higher-ranking members collect drug money from subordinates and administer disciplinary beatings.

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In one instance, described in the indictment, a 2016 “church” meeting in Louisiana took a violent turn when one Neo-Nazi shot another at point blank range and killed him in an argument over whether members were permitted to contact someone who had been kicked out from the gang. The gang members present moved the body and called the cops, trying to stage a botched robbery. One allegedly later traveled to the area to help with “clean up” in the crime and “taunted” investigators who were working on the case.

Part of climbing the ranks of the AC involves “putting in work,” or spilling blood on behalf of the organization. Orders leaders might give underlings to mete out justice to rivals or gang members who stepped out of line could range from S.O.S., or “smash on site,” to giving a “green light,” which calls for “​​an attack up to and including the murder of a rival gang member or of an AC member or associate who had committed an egregious violation of the gang’s rules,” court documents say.

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