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Another Legal Professional Gunned Down– Texas DA Had “Put Some Real Dents in the Aryan Brotherhood around Here”

The McLellands

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COMMENT: Less than two weeks after the killing of Colorado’s corrections chief (allegedly by a member of a white supremacist gang) and roughly two months after the killing of an assistant DA whose office had “put some real dents in the Aryan Brotherhood,” the DA from that very same office and his wife were assassinated.

Obviously, circumstances warrants asking whether the killings are connected. (Ethan Ebel, suspected of killing Clements, was shot dead after a police chase in Texas, where the Hasse and McLellan killings took place.

The Aryan Brotherhood and similar organizations are formidable and should not be dismissed as insignificant. In addition to the fact that they are well organized, cunning and lethal, elements of some of these organizations appear to work in conjunction with elements of the intelligence community, as we saw in FTR #297.

“Texas DA Slain in His Home; Had Armed Himself” by by Nomaan Merchant and Nicholas Riccardi [AP]; Yahoo News; 3/31/2013.

EXCERPT: Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland took no chances after one of his assistant prosecutors was assassinated two months ago. McLelland said he carried a gun everywhere he went and took extra care when answering the door at his home.

“I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier,” the 23-year Army veteran boasted in an interview less than two weeks ago.

On Saturday, he and his wife were found dead in their home just outside the town of Forney, about 20 miles from Dallas, killed in an attack for which authorities have given no motive.

“Everybody’s a little on edge and a little shocked,” Forney Mayor Darren Rozell said. “It appears this was not a random act.”

The killings came less than two weeks after Colorado’s prison chief was gunned down at his front door by a white-supremacist ex-convict, and two months after Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was shot to death in a parking lot a block from his office Jan. 31. No arrests have been made in Hasse’s slaying.

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes confirmed Sunday that the McLellands had been shot. As for whether their deaths were related to Hasse’s slaying, Byrnes said there was nothing to indicate that “for sure,” but declined to discuss it further during a news conference.

McLelland himself, in an Associated Press interview, raised the possibility that Hasse was gunned down by a white supremacist gang. McLelland, elected DA in 2010, said that Hasse hadn’t prosecuted any cases against white supremacists but that his office had handled several, and those gangs had a strong presence in the area.

“We put some real dents in the Aryan Brotherhood around here in the past year,” McLelland said after Colorado’s corrections director, Tom Clements, was shot to death March 19 when he answered the doorbell.

Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said recently the FBI was checking to see if Hasse’s killing could be related to Clements’. Evan Spencer Ebel, a former Colorado inmate and white supremacist who authorities believe killed Clements, died in a March 21 shootout with Texas deputies about 100 miles from Kaufman.

Discussion

5 comments for “Another Legal Professional Gunned Down– Texas DA Had “Put Some Real Dents in the Aryan Brotherhood around Here””

  1. I can’t help but get the feeling that something even bigger is afoot.

    Now a prosecutor has quit the case due to security concerns:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57577663/texas-prosecutor-quits-white-supremacists-case/

    CBS/AP/ April 3, 2013, 5:57 AM
    Texas prosecutor quits white supremacists case

    (snip)
    In the wake of the weekend slayings of a Texas district attorney and his wife that prompted investigators to suspect a violent white supremacist prison gang, an assistant U.S. attorney in Houston has withdrawn from a large racketeering case against the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports from Kaufman, Texas.

    Richard O. Ely II, a Houston defense attorney for one of the 34 defendants, told The Dallas Morning News that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman sent him an email on Tuesday informing him that he was off the case.

    “I understand why someone would want to step back,” Ely told Houston television station KTRK-TV. “It makes sense to me, especially people that have families.”
    ———————-

    Now get this: Mclelland had security at his house until shortly before he was hit:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/31/texas-district-attorney-wife-killed

    (snip)
    Sam Rosander, who lives in the same unincorporated area of Kaufman County as the McLellands, told the Associated Press that sheriff’s deputies were parked in the district attorney’s driveway for about a month after Hasse was killed. The DA had also armed himself for protection, telling reporters that he carried a gun everywhere and took extra care when opening the door at his home following his assistant’s death.

    “I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier,” the 23-year army veteran boasted in an interview less than two weeks ago.
    Byrnes declined to comment on security arrangements ahead of the shooting and would not go into detail as to the measures now being brought in to protect other individuals.”
    —————————-

    Why was the security pulled?
    Now a prosecutor quits due to security concerns.
    It may be possible that the Aryan reach goes into the bowels of Texas law enforcement.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of so much damage in one department, especially in macho Texas.

    Posted by Swamp | April 4, 2013, 10:10 am
  2. More on the motive mystery and possible ties to the Aryan Brotherhood’s Mexican cartel business partners. Whether it was the Aryan Brotherhood, the cartels, a multi-gang operation or whatever, if we’re seeing an organized assassination operation coming from gangs those gangs will presumably be utterly destroyed if caught. Are they just really confident that they won’t get caught in the first place? Bizarre:

    Dallas Observer
    Expert: Aryan Brotherhood of Texas are “Dumb Ol’ White Boys” Who Wouldn’t Kill a D.A.
    By Anna Merlan Wed., Apr. 3 2013 at 11:23 AM

    When I spoke to Terry Pelz late yesterday afternoon, he sounded hoarse and exhausted. “I’m just about talked out,” he said.

    Pelz is a former prison warden at the Darrington Unit who now runs a criminal justice consulting firm in Missouri City, about 20 miles southwest of Houston. He’s been in high demand the past couple days, as an expert on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. The ABT are being eyed as possible suspects in the killing of Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia and assistant DA Mark Hasse. The group is, as we outlined yesterday, a violent and growing criminal enterprise throughout the state and especially in north Texas.

    Although Pelz certainly sees the ABT as a violent and not particularly pleasant group of people, something doesn’t sit right with him in the McLelland and Hasse killings.

    “That’d be a big leap for them,” he says. “I just don’t think it’s credible that it’s them.”

    Why is the ABT the focus of so much speculation in these murders to begin with? A couple reasons. As The Dallas Morning News’ Tanya Eiserer wrote in February, after Hasse’s killing, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a bulletin in December, warning that they had “credible information” that the ABT was planning retaliatory attacks on law enforcement officers, after the massive federal indictment that netted 34 of their members, including five high-ranking “generals.” (Yesterday, a Houston federal prosecutor involved in that case quietly withdrew from it, prompting speculation that he was afraid for his family’s safety).

    In Kaufman County, McLelland himself had gone after the ABT aggressively. In August, he secured a conviction against James Patrick Crawford, a reputed ABT member on trial for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, directing gang activities, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and engaging in organized criminal activity. Crawford, as the Kaufman Herald noted at the time, was the first gang member to be prosecuted in the county under a newish section of the Texas Penal Code, which in 2009 added penalties for directing criminal street gangs. Crawford got two life sentences.

    “I’m just ecstatic about the sentences,” McLelland told the Herald at the time. “It shows that those people can’t come down here and run roughshod over folks in Kaufman County.”

    But in the Kaufman County murders, Pelz says, “It’s just not their style. I studied them for almost 30 years. Like all prison gangs, they make threats on public officials, but I’ve never seen them carry them out.”

    Why not? Well, Pelz says, after a moment of reflection, “You’re dealing with a bunch of dumb ol’ white boys who are meth cookers.”

    Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a former journalist who’s also studied the ABT, agrees that if the gang is involved, it would be an unprecedented move for them.

    “I wouldn’t say [the murders] look like anything we’ve seen before from the ABT,” he says. “If in fact this is them, it would be an astounding kind of move to make.”

    He points out that only about 20 prosecutors in the U.S. have been murdered over the course of the entire 20th century. “It’s an incredibly rare phenomenon. And I’ve never heard of any prison gang assassinating correctional officials,” other than the occasional prison guard.

    Potok, who lived in Dallas for a time and did some work in East Texas, also found, like Pelz, that meth has thoroughly permeated the ABT. “That’s probably their number one thing,” he says.

    It’s been suggested that the ABT could be connected with the killing of Colorado prisons head Tom Clements through the drug trade; the prime suspect in the Clements killing, Evan Ebel, was a reputed member of a white power gang called 211 Crew that also has a taste for meth.

    “We know 211 Crew is also involved in the drug trade,” Potok says. But he sounds skeptical. “How that relates, I don’t know. It’s conceivable that in some way these groups are working together. I’m not suggesting that’s true or that I even think that’s true. It seems hard to believe, frankly.

    That housecleaning sometimes involves murder, Pelz acknowledges. But he speculates that the murders in Kaufman County — and he’s quick to note that this is only speculation — have something to do instead with the ABT’s growing relationship with Mexican drug cartels, who have bonded across racial lines over their shared love of selling meth.

    “Cartels love that meth,” Pelz says. “They make billions off of it.” Last year, as he points out, a raid on a meth lab south of the border seized an eyebrow-raising $4 billion worth of the drug.

    Pelz puts his money on a partnership between the ABT and the cartels that’s soured. “Something was disrupted and somebody got pissed off in the cartel, I think,” he says. “And they got one of their associates to take care of business. I just don’t think the ABT was directly involved in it.”

    Drug cartels have certainly assassinated law enforcement officials before, although in Mexico, not the United States. In 2008, the police chief of Mexico City, Edgar Eusebio Millán Gómez, who had been aggressively pursuing the cartels, was shot dead outside his home. The same year, three other Mexico City police officials were also killed. The Texas Department of Public Safety has warned that cartel members along the border are becoming “increasingly confrontational” in their encounters with law enforcement. A huge AP story released this week suggests that the cartels may be moving further into the U.S., cutting out American middleman drug traffickers they’ve long relied upon.

    Assuming these are indeed connected killings, we’re looking at some terrifying possibilities whether its the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas or the Mexican Cartels. Picking a fight with the government is a big attempt at projecting an image of invulnerability, but as terrifying as these gangs might be to public officials at this point, the prospect of the full force of the US Federal law enforcement system cracking down on you should be pretty terrifying too if you’re in one of these gangs. It’s kind of gang-suicide of these really are organized hits.

    And if there really is Mexican cartel involvement, doesn’t that raise the possibility that the unofficial government of Mexico just declared war on the US? Sure, lots of MIC and the global far-right would LOVE the propect of taunting the US into grander military adventures South of the border, but would all of the MIC be into that? And do the cartels really want that? There’s a lot of delicate relationships that could become difficult to maintain. They are also complicated relationships, so who knows, but there’s A LOT of money being made by drug cartels right now and it’s unclear why these highly lucrative criminal enterprises would want to essentially force the US into Mexican conflict. There are plenty of other parties that would love to see that outcome but it’s really not clear the cartels would have any interest in being this brazen. It’s just bad for business.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2013, 12:56 pm
  3. It looks like investigators may have solved the Kaufman County murders and their prime suspect has no connections to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas or Mexican cartels: it’s Eric Williams, the former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace that was accused of making terroristic threats towards Kaufman County employees following a contentious dismissal that both of the assassinated prosecutors were involved with. Williams was arrested Saturday and charges connected to the murder are expected this week according to sources:

    Exclusive: Authorities trace email threat of another attack to former justice of the peace Eric Williams
    By Tanya Eiserer
    teiserer@dallasnews.com
    3:09 pm on April 14, 2013

    The day after the bodies of Cynthia and Mike McLelland were found, an anonymous writer sent an email to county officials threatening that another attack would happen if the writer’s demands were not met.

    Law enforcement authorities have since linked the the threat back to Eric Williams, a former justice of the peace who is now the prime suspect in the slayings.

    The McLellands were found dead in their home over Easter weekend. Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31 as he walked to the county courthouse.

    A charge of a capital murder in connection the slayings is expected to be filed this week, possibly as early as Tuesday, law enforcement authorities said.

    Williams, 46, was arrested early Saturday on a terroristic-threat charge after dozens of law-enforcement workers executed a search warrant at his Kaufman home on Friday.

    Williams was convicted of stealing county equipment last year and sentenced to probation in a highly contentious case prosecuted by McLelland and Hasse. That case is on appeal. Williams faces another theft charge in a case related to money allegedly misused from a law library fund.

    Authorities searched the Williams’ home and that of his in-laws, who live down the street from them, on Friday. Those searches led to the execution of a search warrant on Saturday at Gibson Self Storage on Seagoville Road near U.S. Highway 175.

    Authorities seized more than 20 weapons from the unit, which was rented on behalf of Williams. Some of the weapons are similar to those used in the Hasse and McLelland slayings. Ballistics tests are now being conducted by the Texas Rangers crime lab on the weapons that are of the same caliber as those used in the killings.

    Part of what makes these reports a little confusing is that all of these reports about impending murder charges are based on anonymous sources but the statements issued by the Kaufman County Sherriff’s department last night said that, while Williams was indeed arrested Saturday, he isn’t the prime suspect or even a suspect in the murders:

    Charges expected in Kaufman County murders

    by JOBIN PANICKER, REBECCA LOPEZ and TODD UNGER

    WFAA

    Posted on April 13, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Updated today at 8:41 AM

    KAUFMAN — Sources tell News 8 there is strong evidence linking former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Williams to the murders of District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife and to the murder of prosecutor Mark Hasse.

    Charges are expected soon.

    According to sources, weapons similar to those used in the murders were found during the search of Williams’ Kaufman residence on Friday.

    State and federal agents executed a search warrant at a storage facility in Seagoville on Saturday night, but they would not say whether that development was linked to Williams.

    Williams was jailed after being arrested early Saturday morning.

    Law enforcement sources confirmed to WFAA that Williams, 46, was picked up at his home and taken to the Kaufman County Jail. The jail website showed that he was booked at 12:32 a.m.

    The arrest follows Friday’s exhaustive search of his Kaufman home by federal agents.

    Late Saturday, Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Justin Lewis told News 8 that Williams has not been charged with the McLelland or Hasse murders and is not a suspect or a prime suspect.

    FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont in Seagoville echoed Lt. Lewis’ statement.

    “Now knowing that they arrested him on a terroristic threat charge, it could just be one of those things that he made comments to somebody and they are having to run down those leads,” said legal expert and attorney Pete Schulte.

    Bond was set at $3 million total; $1 million for the threat charge and $1 million each on two charges of “insufficient bond.”

    “To raise it as high as $1 million, the judge is like, ‘You know the best place for Mr. Williams at this point is in jail until we can figure out what’s going on,'” Schulte said.

    As of late Saturday night, Williams had not been charged with any murders. Our calls to Williams’ attorney were not returned.

    Also note that, as of Sunday night, statements from law enforcement officials reiterate that they have no suspect or prime suspect. So we probably shouldn’t be surprised if Eric Williams is charged with murder in the next week but maybe we also shouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t:

    April 14, 2013, 7:07 p.m. ET

    Ex-Official Jailed in Texas County Racked by Slayings

    By NATHAN KOPPEL and ANA CAMPOY

    DALLAS—A former elected official who has been questioned in the recent killings of two Texas county prosecutors was still behind bars Sunday after being arrested on charges of making a terrorist threat.

    Eric Williams, 46 years old, has been questioned several times by investigators but hasn’t been identified as a suspect in the March killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, who were shot in their home, or the January slaying of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.

    “We have not named any suspects, prime suspects, or persons of interest in the case,” Lt. Justin Lewis, a spokesman with the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office, said on Sunday. “The investigation continues and all leads and tips continue to be worked.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 14, 2013, 7:18 pm
  4. The latest twist in the murder investigation manages to be both unsurprising and still kind of surprising:

    Woman confesses to involvement in killing Texas prosecutors

    By Lisa Maria Garza

    KAUFMAN, Texas | Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:29pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The wife of a former Texas justice of the peace confessed to her involvement in shooting deaths of the local district attorney, his wife and a prosecutor who had helped to convict her husband for stealing computer monitors, the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday.

    Kim Williams, 46, told investigators she was involved in the killings earlier this year of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse. She has been charged with capital murder and is being held in the Kaufman County Jail on a $10 million bond on Wednesday.

    Her husband, Eric, who was charged over the weekend on suspicion of threatening violence, denied involvement in the attacks to several media outlets last week. He has not been charged in the killings.

    The development resolves the suspense that has surrounded a disturbing series of murders that had rocked the rural area outside of Dallas and stirred fears about the safety of law enforcement officials.

    After the McLellands’ murders, suspicion fell on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist prison gang that had threatened retaliation against prosecutors, including Kaufman County prosecutors, who were involved in a multi-agency task force that announced a sweeping federal indictment of dozens of gang members last fall.

    “Kim Williams confessed to her involvement … in the shooting deaths,” said a warrant for her arrest released by the sheriff’s office.

    The two prosecutors helped to convict her husband, Eric Williams, who lost his position as justice of the peace in Kaufman County after he was found guilty of stealing computer monitors from a public building, according to law enforcement authorities there.

    County employees and law enforcement officials told investigators that Hasse and McLelland believed Williams blamed them for his removal from office and that both carried handguns because they thought he was a threat to their safety, the warrant said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 17, 2013, 12:59 pm
  5. In some Mexican drug cartel/prosecutors-related news, a small plane carrying six people from the Mexican Attorney General’s office recently crashed in Mexico. They were on their way back to Mexico City after helping to serve an arrest warrant to members of the Zetas cartel. The cause of the crash is still being investigated, although it’s reported that auditors found serious maintenance and airworthiness issues in this plane and in the whole prosecutors’ fleet. So who knows if this was a Zetas hit or the result of a lack of preventative maintenance, but it’s a reminder that damaged or aging infrastructure that is prone to catastrophic failure can be as deadly as violent organized crime:

    6 dead in crash of Mexican prosecutors’ plane

    The Associated Press

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | 1:34 p.m.

    Mexican authorities say six employees of the Attorney General’s Office have been killed in the crash of a small plane, and a newspaper says an auditors’ report indicated months ago that the aircraft fleet for prosecutors was in bad shape.

    Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam says the cause of the crash Tuesday in northern Zacatecas state is being investigated.

    The officials had flown to Zacatecas to serve an arrest warrant on members of the Zetas drug cartel. Murillo Karam says their small, twin-engine propeller plane was about 28 years old.

    The newspaper El Universal said Wednesday that an auditors’ report issued in October found serious problems with maintenance and airworthiness in the prosecutors’ fleet of aircraft.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2013, 11:00 pm

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