Locally, the ABT has been especially active, beginning with the 1997 execution-style killings of two women and one man in a Lake Highlands drug deal. In October 2001, ABT member Mark Stroman, aka The Superior One, walked into a Mesquite convenience store and killed two Middle Eastern-looking convenience store clerks in retaliation for 9/11. And in 2005, Stephen Lance Heard, whom prosecutors say was affiliated with the ABT, killed Fort Worth police officer Hank Nava when Nava tried to execute a search warrant on Heard's mobile home. Last November, the FBI released a bulletin warning the Dallas police that the ABT was asking its members who had once worked as police informants to gather the names and addresses of local police officers to put in a database.
"I think the scariest thing about this group is their total disrespect for law enforcement," Pitcavage says. "They do not care if they are sent to prison. They are not afraid to die. That is especially frightening if you become one of their targets."
While the Dallas Police Department and other law enforcement agencies consider the Aryan Brotherhood more of an organized crime outfit than a hate group, Pitcavage says members remain committed to a racist ideology and are willing to die for it. "At the group level and at the formal level they were founded on the basis of white supremacy. They pledge allegiance to the 14 Words, and anybody who refers to the 14 Words is a committed white supremacist."
The 14 Words—"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."—was coined by David Lane, one of the founding members of a white supremacist group known as The Order, which claimed it was dedicated to deliver "our people from the Jew and bring total victory to the Aryan Race." The Order was involved in car hijackings, murder, counterfeiting money and organizing militaristic training camps—all with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the U.S. government.
The ABT is different from other white supremacists because they are willing to suppress their virulent racism in the interest of making a profit, adds Pitcavage. "They will work with other races to do crime that benefits their race, but they still maintain their white supremacist attitude."
According to a June 2007 report by the Department of Justice, the ABT is active in narcotics trafficking in the Houston areas of Baytown, Beaumont/Port Arthur and Montgomery County. FBI intelligence suggests the ABT also controls a large piece of the meth trade in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. And the ABT is now moving into white-collar crime, specifically identity theft and mortgage fraud, Pitcavage says. "These guys are primarily opportunistic, and they will find different ways to make money."
Such was the case in the summer of 2006, when Dale Clayton Jameton moved into a Mesquite neighborhood. Tattoos and shaved head notwithstanding, he didn't arouse the suspicions of many of his neighbors, who had no idea what they were in for.
From the time he was a boy growing up in Harris County, Jameton's life seemed marked for crime. His dad, a Vietnam vet, had been a member of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, as was his uncle. "But that was when I was young," Jameton told me.
He said he was introduced to alcohol at the age of 6 when his uncle talked him out of his allowance money to split a six-pack of beer with him. At 10, he started smoking weed, and by 13 he was shooting cocaine. At 16, he was caught delivering drug paraphernalia to his uncle's meth lab in San Antonio. Back in Harris County, he was robbing houses, pawning what he stole, getting high. He was sent to a 90-day Harris County boot camp—his first of many incarcerations over the next 10 years.
In 2000, a robbery conviction sent Jameton to the Garza West Unit in South Texas. He only lasted four months there before being transferred to Polunsky, a maximum-security facility in Livingston that houses Death Row inmates and security threats.
Polunsky has a reputation as one of the toughest places to do time in Texas. A year after Jameton left the unit, a Hispanic inmate was stabbed to death and another severely beaten in a brawl between rival prison gangs. Notorious ABT members such as Mark Stroman were housed there on Death Row. Inmates in administrative segregation, which included confirmed ABT members such as Jameton, complained there was no air conditioning in their cells; that their sinks were often broken, forcing them to brush their teeth and shave with toilet water; and that they were sometimes taken from their cells, handcuffed and shackled, and stripped naked in a group of 50 or 60 inmates for weapons checks. Recreation was one hour each day. The rest of the time was spent in a 6-by-10-foot cell with one window the size of a license plate.