Texas is home to about 3,400 members of white supremacist criminal gangs, not even counting the various skinhead and neo-Nazi groups stirring hatred or, in the case of one former American Fascist Party leader near Houston, doing radio commentary under the guise of the Tea Party, says Ft. Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy. “I think there’s a lot of confusion here about the prison gangs,” said Roberta Clark of the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors both domestic hate groups and international terrorist activity. “People don’t realize that these groups have grown much larger than the other extremist groups we’re more familiar with,” she said.
The two largest criminal gangs in Texas — the Aryan Circle and the prison-system-founded Aryan Brotherhood of Texas — have an estimated 1,400 and 2,000 members in the state, respectively, and have been connected to a series of violent crimes. The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center says the 211 Crew, one of whose members was a suspect in the killing of Colorado’s prison director, has several hundred to 1,000 members. The 211 Crew, also known as the Aryan Alliance, is “particularly vicious” and evolved from a white inmates’ prison-yard alliance to organized crime, says the center’s Mark Potok.