News Roundup: 57 White Supremacist Prison Gang Members Face Drug Trafficking, Other Charges

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 2, 2018 3:12 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

This week, federal authorities hit 57 members of white supremacist prison gangs with drug trafficking and kidnapping conspiracy charges.

Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Texas, described the operation at a Monday press conference. Kevin Krause, the federal reporter for The Dallas Morning News, was there.

“And so she made the announcement involving several of these gangs,” he told Texas Standard. “Most prominently the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, but also the Aryan Circle, the Peckerwoods, the Soldiers of Aryan Culture, and the Dirty White Boys.”

Krause says a few of those charged were already in prison or in custody for unrelated charges, but the rest were picked up during a roundup last week.

“A lot of these guys are in and out of prison, so it’s like a revolving door, I guess, because the nature of their charges, they’re not always serious enough to keep them behind bars for a long time,” Krause explains.

The 55-count indictment included conspiracy to sell methamphetamine. There were also charges related to heroin, firearms, and a synthetic opioid known as “pink.” Krause says given the number of defendants and the drugs and weapons seized, this was a significant operation.

“Also, this is the second time the Aryan Brotherhood has been in the news, because the southern district of Texas took the lead several years ago in busting up the leadership of the gang so this is now like the second round of arrests involving these white supremacist prison gangs.”

Federal agents seized almost $400,000 in cash, 190 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 31 firearms, as part of the investigation.

State Rep. Eric Johnson, a Dallas Democrat, announced early Wednesday he has filed to run for speaker of the Republican-dominated Texas House of Representatives. Johnson is the first Democrat to enter the race to succeed retiring House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican. Last October, Straus announced that he wasn’t running for re-election in 2018.

Johnson told the Texas Tribune in a statement, that if elected, he would be the first person of color to ever serve as Texas House speaker.

Three Republican representatives are already running for the role, including Tan Parker of Flower Mound, Phil King of Weatherford and John Zerwas of Richmond.

Typically, Texas House members choose a speaker on the first day of the legislative session, which begins in January 2019.

Bela and Martha Karolyi are suing the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics. The Houston Chronicle reports the lawsuit was filed last month.

They are seeking over a million dollars in damages for the canceled contracts and the sale of part of their Huntsville training center and ranch. The couple also says they should not be held responsible in any lawsuits stemming from crimes former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar committed there.  Earlier this year, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse – over 150 women and girls testified during his trial. Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie on Dateline NBC last month that she and Bela did not know Nassar was abusing athletes at their ranch.

“I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents that were in therapy room, with their own child, and Larry Nassar was performing this…and the parent couldn’t see, how I could see?” Karolyi said.

The Karolyi’s coached some of Team USA’s biggest Olympic stars.