Courts

Kidnappings, Stabbings and Blow-Torching Tattoos: Two Neo-Nazi Prison Gang Members Convicted in Texas

Aryan Circle has spent decades growing into one of Texas' most feared prison gangs.
Aryan Circle has spent decades growing into one of Texas' most feared prison gangs. Photo by Damir Spanic, Creative Commons (Unsplash)
The Aryan Circle, the second largest prison gang in Texas, is known for going to war both behind bars and outside the clink, but the feds racked up victories against two of the neo-Nazi outfit’s members this week.

As part of a federal trial in Beaumont, a jury convicted Aryan Circle members William Glenn Chunn and Jesse Paul Blankenship of several crimes that took place between 2010 and 2021, federal authorities said Thursday.

Chunn was convicted on a racketeering charge with an enhanced penalty for attempted murder, while Blankenship was convicted on several federal charges related to racketeering and kidnapping.

According to federal prosecutors, Chunn, a high-ranking leader with the nom de guerre “Big Head,” issued marching orders to his followers: to carry out stabbing attacks on disloyal Aryan Circle members and rivals alike, and to hunt down and attack individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.


Chunn, a 39-year-old Texan, “is one of the five highest-ranking Aryan Circle leaders in the nation,” the U.S. Department of Justice in East Texas said in a press release.

A federal indictment says Blankenship, a 38-year-old from Missouri, carried out a string of violent crimes for Aryan Circle: He shot two people, partook in a kidnapping and in one instance, used a blow torch to burn another Aryan Circle member’s gang tattoo off his skin.

"Today’s verdicts keep two violent white supremacists from wreaking havoc and hate on the streets of America." - Fred Milanowski, ATF

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Those crimes led to Blankenship climbing the ladder inside the Aryan Circle, eventually putting him in a high enough leadership position to order “additional acts of violence,” the DOJ said.

Together, the verdicts mark 37 convictions against Aryan Circle members and others as part of a far-reaching investigation that includes federal, state, county and local law enforcement around the country.

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


In the statement, Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said authorities will “continue to investigate and prosecute those who advocate harm to others, and to specifically target the leaders of violent gangs.”

In Texas, the Aryan Circle is second only to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) watchdog.

“Though their main motivations are those of an organized crime group, they live up to the hatred implicit in their white supremacist beliefs as well,” explains an ADL report.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.