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Lured, Corrupted, and Killed: Part 2
By Megan Dillard and Scott Lawrence
Lieutenants, generals, soldiers are military terms and rankings that are part of the military structure of Texas gangs that operate behind bars and in the free world.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice recognizes 12 such groups as security threats, groups so violent the state has singled them out for the danger they pose to other inmates and staff.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Aryan Circle are the two white supremacy organizations on the list. The rest include the Bloods, the Crips, and eight Mexican gangs rounding out the modern day dirty dozen.
Criminal enterprises that deal drugs, dispense hit orders, kills behind bars and outside.
These soldiers fashion everyday items into their own weapons of war behind bars.
It's a culture of violence that starts when the inmates are young, overseen by prison gangs that lure, corrupt and kill.
"They feed a bunch of young kids like me a bunch of knowledge, to look up to," said a former Aryan Circle recruiter.
"Very dysfunctional personalities who had never had any success in anything in life that's why they're in prison," United States Attorney Malcolm Bales said.
Once they're recruited by gang members, inmates' lives are pledged to a cause.
"Now they belong to something that is powerful and scary and has a structure, and they're going to take care of each other, brothers for life," Bales said. "It's really like taking in a baby. Taking in a kid. You're going to make them who they are. You take them in at 17 and warp their mind."
Its a life that the former recruiter became a part of when he first went to prison, pledging his life to the Aryan Circle.
"When I first went to prison I felt I had no choice 'cause gangs ran it," the former recruiter said.
It's a truth he says is unknown to people on the outside.
"Gangs run prison. There's no guards that run prison. The warden don't run prison," the former recruiter said.
Another man shared his perspective.
"For someone to say that I had to join a prison gang, for my well-being and my protection, I question that," said Emil Garza, the supervisor of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Security Threat Group Management Office.
Garza and his team work day in and day out within the system to learn the culture, the behaviors, and the markings of these gang members.
"It'll knock your socks off, what we're able to avoid, as far as homicides, serious incidents, and such," Garza said.
Garza showed some of the weapons seized, from shanks to a weapon made using the elastic on someones underwear.
"So creative. Why can't you use that for something positive instead of something negative?" Garza said.
The Aryan Circle recruiter described one of the orders used.
"Smash on site."
Smash on site, or SOS, can be a kill order or could just be a green light, the former recruiter said.
It's a target on someones back.
"Stab somebody in chow hall, in the bowling alley, or just beat em up-smash em," the former recruiter said.
Violence is unleashed and accountability is avoided.
"The wrong consequences, the wrong actions-you're going to have to own up to it. That's where I think that's where we're dropping the ball. Folks are not owning up to their particular actions," Garza said.
Meanwhile, the former Aryan Circle recruiter offered his perspective.
"It all boils down to me and my decision. I take full responsibility and I don't blame them for nothing. I was the nave one. They might have been the ones tempting me, but it all comes down to man's choice," he said.
Choices James Lee Sedtal made inside jail that led to his death on the outside, his mother left to suffer in her own private prison.
When asked whether she would carry this with her until the day she died, Vivian Sedtal replied: "Yes, very much so. That's horrible, isn't it?"