Update: Aryan Brotherhood of Texas General-Steven "Stainless" Walter Cooke of Tomball, Texas and David Jason Michels of Magnolia, Texas charged with murder of rival gang member, Scott "Arizona" Freeman.
Feds say rivals killed member of Aryan gang
Case against 2 area men offers a look into group born in prison
Aug. 21, 2010, 12:15AM
Two years after the crumpled, bullet-ravaged body of a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was found along a country road, federal authorities said Friday they charged two fellow gangsters in the killing — a case rife with the details of secret rivalries, alliances and laws of the state's white-power underworld.
Despite the bloody end - which was part of a recruiting dispute between factions of the prison-born gang - authorities contend all three men were bonded by a merciless enterprise that promotes white supremacy, separatism and vicious crimes.
A newly released federal indictment states that Scott "Arizona" Freeman, whose body was found by a passing motorist in rural Liberty County in 2008, was slain by Steven Walter Cooke of Tomball and David Jason Michels of Magnolia.
Cooke, who goes by the street name Stainless, is described by prosecutors as a general. Michels is a soldier, and Freeman was a rival at the time of his death.
He was shot six times with a .45-caliber weapon, according to authorities.
Spread beyond prisons
The indictment is thick with jargon for the gang, which was established in the Texas prison system in the 1980s and spread to other parts of the country outside prison walls. With the growth, trouble has also spread, said John Bales, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
"There is peace in the prison for the most part, but we are seeing much more violence as they rub up against each other in what they call the free world," Bales said.
Members adhere to a motto: "God Forgives, Brothers Don't," according to a new federal indictment.
The top prosecutor for the region, Bales said he finds the gangsters' mantras despicable but stressed the recent charges are about what happened in Liberty County.
"We are not after them because they have swastikas on their bodies. … We are after them because they are murdering people and breaking the law."
Their creed is white power. Their business is robbery, gun running, drug trafficking, fraud and brutality.
In June, authorities in San Antonio charged three alleged members or associates of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, including two from Houston, with killing one of their own for stealing a load of drugs instead of selling them as directed.
In order to bring the latest charges, Bales said it was necessary to explain how the violence was part of a racketeering enterprise.
"We are not trying to slime them up, but that is part of the case you have to show," he said of the gangs' workings and views.
The indictment states that members live by a 14-word philosophy: "We must secure the existence of our people and the future for white children." They are guided by a constitution and have ranks such as general, major, captain, lieutenant, sergeant at arms and soldier.
"Members are required to sign a Blind Faith Commitment in which they agree to do anything directed or requested by their superiors without question," continues the indictment. "Failure to comply may result in severe beatings … or death."
Each of the two Texas factions is governed by its own five-person "steering committee" of generals.
There is plenty of jargon:
"Beat downs" are severe beatings carried out by members, often for discipline.
"Church" is a gang meeting.
"Featherwoods" are women who associate with the gang during their crimes.
Robert Grant, a Texas Deptartment of Criminal Justice gang expert, said outsiders' perception is that inmates join gangs to be protected, but membership can be a drawn for many reasons.
"In the '80s they primarily focused on protecting white inmates and white supremacy," he said of the gang's origins.Cooke and Michels both face punishment by up to death or life in prison if convicted
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
June 18, 2010
Public Information Officer
José Angel Moreno, United States AttorneyContact: Angela Dodge
Public Information Officer
U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller sentenced Cooke to 96 months in federal prison without parole and a three-year-term of supervised release following his prison term. Cooke, identified in previous court proceedings as a “general” of the ABT, pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm on Feb. 16, 2010. Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.
At the time of his guilty plea, Cooke, who has multiple prior convictions dating back to 1987 for aggravated robbery, robbery, possession of crack cocaine and theft of firearms, admitted to having possessed 13 firearms at his Tomball, Texas, area residence between April 2007 and Oct. 23, 2008. The firearms, including seven rifles — two of which were ROMARM/CUGIR 7.62 cal from Romania, five shotguns and one Sterling .380 cal pistol, were seized following the execution of a state search warrant. In addition to the firearms, more than 300 rounds of ammunition and body armor were also seized from Cooke’s residence.
The search warrant was obtained as a result of an investigation conducted by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the assistance of the Tomball Police Department, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department Gang Unit, Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Gang Targeting, Enforcement and Coordinating Center. A camera containing photographs of Cooke carrying one of the Romanian rifles was seized from Cooke’s vehicle in mid-October 2008 by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office prompting the investigation leading to these federal charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman and Trial Attorney David N. Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit prosecuted the case.
Steven Walter Cooke
17103 Clay Road #108
124 Road 2683
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