KAUFMAN, TX -- Local law enforcement officials at first seemed to down play a possible link between the murder of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse on Jan. 31 and threats from the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, but the violent white supremacist prison group now appears to be the main focus of the multi-agency investigation that has drawn a small army of law enforcement officials and reporters to the rural area.
On the day of the 57-year-old Hasse's death in a courthouse parking lot as he headed for work, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Houston released a statement announcing the guilty pleas of two members of the white supremacist organization. Hasse was gunned down by two masked suspects who apparently easily escaped from the small town.
At the conclusion of the statement, the FBI credited a multi-agency task force for securing indictments in October 2012 against 34 ABT members that named the Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney's Office. The two ABT members, Ben Christian "Tuff" Dillon, 40, of Houston, and James Marshall "Dirty" Meldrum, 40, of Dallas, entered their guilty pleas to conspiracy in racketeering.
In December 2012 the Texas Department of Public Safety issued an alert that the ABT planned to retaliate against the 20 federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies that helped secure the indictments in Houston.
The other agencies named in the FBI statement were 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 Department; Tarrant County, Texas Sheriff's Department; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Fort Worth, Texas Police Department; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Carrollton, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County, Texas, District Attorney's Office; Atascosa County, Texas District Attorney's Office.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and their activities, has identified the ABT as "particularly violent."
The Aryan Brotherhood prison gang formed in California and spread to Texas in about 1980, according to the law center. Membership in the organization reportedly requires a year's candidacy, and a murder or other violent crime is generally required for full membership.