On the streets of Odessa, there is one family growing faster than any other. They’re known as the Aryan Circle.
NewsWest 9 sat down with three of their members who all go by nicknames. Shaggy is 30-years-old, Tatt2 RayRay is 28-years-old and Gadget is 26-years-old. All three have been to prison and jail more than once. Each told NewsWest 9 they’ve never spoken to the media about their ties to the Aryan Circle until now.
“We’re a brotherhood. That’s the fourth side of our diamond [tattoo],” Tatt2 RayRay said. He describes the four sides of the diamond as, “Solidarity, loyalty, dedication and brotherhood.”
Law enforcement calls this group a violent gang that’s been bred out of Texas prisons and is now spreading through Ector County.
A. Lamar Pruit is the FBI-Midland Senior Supervisory Resident Agent. She tells us, “The Aryan Circle is of major concern in this area.”
They’re a breakout group of another white pride gang called the Aryan Brotherhood.
Sgt. James McKinney with the Ector County Sheriff’s Office says, “There was a lot of turmoil inside the Aryan Brotherhood and so a lot of them started their own [group] which was the Aryan Circle.”
Members say they have no choice but to join. For them, it’s a matter of protection while locked up. The numbers behind bars are going up but there’s also tremendous growth outside of prisons.
Sgt. Investigator Billy Bloom is with Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office. He says, “When they parole out or get out of prison, they hit what’s called the ‘free world’ which is where we live in everyday.”
Finding local gang experts to talk with NewsWest 9 was near impossible. More than once, we were told our story was covering a “sensitive” topic. A number of the interviews we requested were denied.
Special Agent Pruit with FBI-Midland says, “I’m not going to lie. I had to think really hard before I decided to go ahead and do the interview because they’re in the community [and] because they have the presence that they have.”
The Aryan Circle started in 1985 and is now the second largest white supremacist gang in the state. The crimes they commit run the gamut.
Sgt. Investigator Bloom says, “They do thefts, fraud, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, arms trafficking with weapons and ammunition, aggravated assaults, home invasions and murder.”
In 2007, members of the Aryan Circle murdered two police officers in Bastrop, Louisiana.
They are racist and anti-semitic. Brothers and sisters of the group claim to follow the words of the Bible and believe in preserving the blonde-haired, blue-eyed “Aryan race.”
Aryan Circle tattoos are rich in codes. One of the most common tattoos seen is a “13.” The “1″ represents the first letter of the alphabet, which is “A” for “Aryan.” The “3″ represents the third letter of the alphabet, which is “C” for “Circle.”
Tatt2 RayRay ranks highly in the family. He has the popular “1488″ tattoo. The “14″ stands for a 14-word slogan they follow that goes as follows, “We must secure the existence of the our people and a future for white children.” The “88″ refers to the eight letter of the alphabet, which is “H”. If you double that, you’ve got “HH” or, “Heil Hitler.”
Most members have swastikas and neo-Nazi SS bolts tattooed on their bodies. And, a portion of the family affiliates with the Ku Klux Klan. Tattoos of a “33/6″ are often seen. The “33″ represents “11″ multiplied by “3.” “K” is the eleventh letter of the alphabet. Triple “K” and you’ve got “KKK”. The “6″ stands for the sixth era of the Klan, which is the era we currently live in.
The most prominent KKK group is the Knight’s Party. They deny any involvement with the Aryan Circle.
Knight’s Party Representative Rachel Pendergraft says, “It’s very offensive to have some ‘nut jobs’ in prison that we don’t want in our neighborhoods putting the letters ‘KKK’ on their arms because they think it will help advance their little warfare.”
The Knight’s Party says they’re a non-violent political group fighting off what they call “genocide against the white man.”
In 2008, 16 Aryan Circle members in Midland-Odessa were locked up after massive methamphetamine bust. Law enforcement says that is their drug of choice.
Yet now, they’re on their way back into society.
Mark Pitcavage with the Anti-Defamation League explains, “They’re really hard to eradicate. They’re a really hard problem to deal with. They’re sort of like cockroaches. You know, when there’s nuclear Armageddon, cockroaches and the Aryan Circle will be the ones still around.”
With the oil boom comes a surge in the local Aryan Circle presence.
Sgt. Investigator Bloom says, “When the oil fields pick up, that’s all in West Texas. That migrates these criminal organizations west to go to work in the oil fields.”
Copper theft in oil fields all over the Basin is on the rise. Most fingers point first to the Aryan Circle.
Special Agent Pruit says, “Typically, what they do is they turn around and sell the copper wire and then that is used for the purchase of meth and it just is a continuous cycle.”
What does the Aryan Circle say about this deeply negative profile they’ve been given?
Tatt2 RayRay tells us, “I’m not a violent gang member. I’m a leader of a successful organization. Sit down with me for five minutes and let me show you what it really is about.”