The prison-based Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is a hierarchical organization, with leaders exerting lots of power over their subordinates. The group breaks the state up into five regions, based on the prison system, and the generals of each region are the top-dog. They appoint two majors, one on the inside and one on the out.
James Lawrence Burns, aka "Chance," was the group's the "free world" major of the DFW area. But after pleading guilty to racketeering charges last week, he's going to need a new job description.
Since at least 2009, Burns served as the major here, and he seemed to take advantage of his position, all in the name of "discipline," according to the FBI. One time, Burns felt another member of the Brotherhood disrespected him, and he ordered the man's kidnapping. Three members of the gang dragged the disrespecting member from a house and drove him to a remote area in Dallas. Over the speaker of a cell phone, Burns berated the gang member for his slight. When they reached their destination, the kidnappers blowtorched a brotherhood symbol onto the man's ribcage.
Burns ordered another kidnapping when he found out one gang member had pulled a gun on another. Several members lured the man to a house with promises of sex and drugs. Then they tased him. They wrapped duct tape around his ankles and wrists, threw him in the back of a truck, and delivered him to Burns. The major pounded the man's head and face with a stick the size of a broom handle, according to court documents.
On another occasion, after yet another kidnapping-turned-beating, Burns received a videotape of the assault. He had asked his fellow brothers to prove they had followed through.
Burns is one of 36 members of the Brotherhood who were charged with racketeering through their involvement with the gang. The Texas Brotherhood is not affiliated with the original prison gang that started in California. To date, 32 members have pleaded guilty. Burns could face life in prison.
Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.