HOUSTON – An alleged general of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang (ABT) and a fellow gang member pleaded guilty today to racketeering charges related to their membership in the ABT’s criminal enterprise, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
James Francis Sampsell, aka “Skitz,” 44, of Odessa, and Fredrick Michal Villarreal, aka, “Big Mike,” 35, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.
According to court documents, Sampsell, Villarreal and other ABT gang members and associates agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang. Sampsell, Villarreal and numerous ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other activities.
By pleading guilty to racketeering charges, Sampsell and Villarreal admitted to being members of the ABT criminal enterprise.
According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.
Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery and threats against those who violated the rules or posed a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”
According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for ABT membership, a person must be sponsored by another gang member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.
At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 7, 2014, Sampsell and Villarreal each face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Sampsell and Villarreal are two of 36 defendants charged with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges. To date, 21 defendants have pleaded guilty.
This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General; sheriff’s offices in Harris, Tarrant, Atascosa, Orange and Waller Counties; police departments in Alvin, Carrollton and Mesquite Texas; as well as the Montgomery and Atascosa County District Attorney’s Offices.