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The Baron & The Hulk

Blood In, Blood Out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood by John Lee Brook. True Crime. From the dead centre of the enormous American penitentiary system, the Aryan Brotherhood was the lion that somehow seized control of the city as well as the zoo, steadily coming to dominate the billion dollar Methamphetamine industry that permeates America’s urban sprawl. More about this item»


Extract from Chapter One of the Headpress book,
Blood In Blood Out, The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood
by John Lee Brook

Chapter One


December 2002

THEY CAME FOR THEM while it was still dark. Shortly after four in the morning, a convoy of vehicles turned off the main highway. US Marshal Clarence J. Sugar sat in the passenger seat of the lead vehicle. A tall, heavily muscled man, Marshal Sugar carried himself with a swagger, and an air of menace hung from him like a cloak. Today he was strapped to the max: pepper spray, a Taser, and a Glock 9mm all rode on his Sam Browne belt. In his lap rested a Mac-10 machine gun. Next to his right leg, an M-16 assault rifle rested against the door of the SUV. Black body armor encased his upper torso making him appear even broader than he was.

Spread out among the other vehicles, Marshal Sugar had a total of nineteen deputy marshals accompanying him. All of them wore black fatigues and body armor, and carried fully automatic weapons. All of them were hard men who knew how to handle themselves in a combat situation.

It was cool and damp outside. A faint ribbon of blue arose from the western horizon to meet the darkness. Marshal Sugar looked out the window of his vehicle and shook his head. Even California had a Siberia, he decided, and this was it. ‘It’ was a remote forested area near a town called Crescent City, in Del Norte County, California. Up ahead he noticed the white glow that signified the huge, lighted compound ahead. Around the perimeter of the compound, spread out over 275 acres, he could see miles of curlicue razorwire. Outside the wire stood electrified fences that would fry anyone who touched them.

The massive gate of the main entrance slowly opened. As the convoy roared inside, guards armed with high-powered rifles looked down from their watchtowers. Reaching a complex of white concrete buildings—that formed a series of X’s when viewed from above—the convoy screeched to a halt. The twenty US marshals jumped out, moving in formation to the main door of the complex.

Once inside the building, the small army of marshals moved down a long gray corridor, observed by an array of surveillance cameras. They passed through a series of barred doors, which thunked closed behind them, before arriving at their destination: The Security Housing Unit of Pelican Bay state prison. SHU for short, or the Hole by those who worked and lived in it.

The SHU was a prison built inside a prison.

Pelican Bay state prison was California’s supermax prison. The place where California caged its most ferocious human animals. Some people called them criminals, others prisoners or inmates. But they were beasts of the jungle, men so savage and so dangerous they had to be separated from the other violent men.

Marshal Sugar and his deputy marshals were here to pick up and transport two of these men.

Arriving at the first cell, Marshal Sugar slammed the butt of his Mac-10 against the steel door. Inside the cell, a man jumped up from his bunk where he had been asleep. Standing in his white boxer shorts, he glared at the cell door, as if trying to burn a hole through it with his vision.

“Assume the position,” said Marshal Sugar. “You’re being moved.”

“Fuck you,” snarled the inmate. This was Barry Byron Mills, but no one called him that. Everyone called him the Baron or McB. The name Baron was in reference to his power and authority over other inmates. Those who called him McB did so because he was like McDonald’s, worldwide and everywhere.

“Assume the position,” repeated Marshal Sugar. This command meant the Baron should place his back against the inside of his cell door and put his hands through a slot in the door, so that his hands could be cuffed behind his back.

“No,” said the Baron. Then he smiled and added, “Make me.”

Marshal Sugar stepped aside and nodded at the corrections officer who stood beside him. The CO put his key in the doorlock, heavy pneumatic bolts snapped back, and the CO pulled the door open.

The Baron looked at Marshal Sugar. “Who the fuck are you and what do you want with me?” he asked.

Marshal Sugar noted the man’s massive muscles, tattoos and gleaming bald head. “US marshals,” said Sugar. “And like I just told you, you’re being moved. And we’re moving you right now. We can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way.” Marshal Sugar then smiled. “Or we can do it the semi-easy-hard way. The choice is yours.”

Narrowing his blue eyes, the Baron asked, “What’s the semi-easy-hard way? I’m not familiar with that one.”

“The easy way is that you act like a civilized human being and we’ll treat you like one. The hard way is that my deputies rush you and take you by force. Sometimes—in the chaos that occurs in this particular method—you get a little roughed up,” explained the marshal and gave the Baron a fat smile. “The semi-easy-hard way is that I simply shoot you with this thing”—he held up his Taser—“and after you do the funky chicken for about thirty seconds, we search your body cavities and bundle you up.”

Marshal Sugar shrugged. “I don’t really care how we do it, because in the end the result is the same.” With a dramatic flourish, he raised his forearm up to his eyes and looked at his wristwatch. “You have ten seconds to decide.”

The Baron clenched his fists, as if checking his energy levels. After a few seconds, he winked and turned around, clasping his hands at the small of his back. Deputy marshals quickly surrounded him. One cuffed his hands, while the others probed his ears and nose with flashlights, in search of anything that might be used as a weapon or as a key to unlock handcuffs.

“Open your mouth, please,” said one of the marshals.

The Baron opened his mouth wide and a flashlight was shined in it. “Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue, please,” said the marshal, peering into the Baron’s mouth.

“Okay. Thank you.” The marshal stepped back and the Baron snapped his mouth shut, thrusting his head forward a little bit like he was a shark biting into flesh.

A deputy marshal pulled from a bag a yellow jumpsuit, stenciled across the back of which, in bold, black letters, was the word PRISONER.

“Put these on, please,” said the deputy marshal, holding the jumpsuit out to the Baron. “But before you do, please squat down three times. Then we’ll remove the cuffs so you can dress.”

The Baron hissed a little between his teeth, shaking his head. If he had a shank—which was a crude, handmade knife—hidden inside his rectum, squatting three times would cause the shank to move and probably pierce his intestines. He squatted three times.

His hands were then uncuffed. While he pulled on the yellow jumpsuit, three deputy marshals pointed their Tasers at him. All three were big, beefy men, who gazed at him flatly. Then they cuffed his hands behind his back, and shackled his feet. The final touch was a waist chain, like a steel belt, which they threaded through his handcuffs and locked snugly around him.

“What about shoes?” demanded the Baron.

“You’ll get socks and slippers once you’re in the van,” Marshal Sugar told him.

The Baron glared at him.

“They’ll get cold, but they won’t freeze.”

The Baron was escorted to the bench, where the deputy marshals ran heavy chains through his ankle shackles and waist chain. They ran these chains through rings welded to the bench, pulling them tight and forcing the Baron to sit hunched over.

“Okay,” said Marshal Sugar, “let’s get the other one.” Five deputy marshals remained with the Baron, while the others moved down the hallway to another cell.

This cell was the home of Tyler Bingham, who was also known as the Hulk and Super Honkey. Both nicknames referred to his physique; he was almost as wide as he was tall, and he could bench press over 500 pounds.

The Hulk was waiting for them. He had heard voices, voices he didn’t recognize, coming from the vicinity of the Baron’s cell. Dressed in his yellow jumpsuit, which indicated his Hole-status, he stood against the back wall of his seven by ten foot cell.

Marshal Sugar nodded for the CO to open the cell door. Rolling his eyeballs, the CO did as instructed. As the CO pulled the cell door open, the Hulk launched himself at the marshals. Growling deep in his chest, he shot out the door as if out of a cannon. Grabbing one of the deputy marshals around the waist, the Hulk pulled the man to the ground. As the two men crashed to the floor, the Hulk tried to grab the marshal’s pistol from its holster. He had his fingers on the butt of the 9mm Glock when five marshals grabbed him, with another trying to batter his head off with a flashlight.

Although partially stunned by the rapid blows to his head, the Hulk roared and fought like a man possessed. But only for about five seconds. Then the probes from two Tasers caught him, sending an arcing current of hot lightning through his massive body. Screaming, the Hulk wriggled, arched and bounced like he was having an epileptic fit.

After thirty seconds, Marshal Sugar raised his hand and the Tasers were switched off.

The Hulk was quickly stripped naked and his body cavities were examined with flashlights. Coating the index finger of his latex-covered hand with KY Jelly, one of the marshals did a quick rectal exam of the Hulk.

Marshal Sugar noted the Hulk’s luxuriant gray walrus mustache, his shaved head, and the tattoos on his arms. On one arm was a tattoo of the Star of David, on the other arm a black swastika. Marshal Sugar wondered about that for a moment. Was it sarcasm, mockery, or some odd hodgepodge of white supremacist thinking?

Marshal Sugar shrugged. “Get him dressed and shackled,” he said as he walked away. “Put a restraint on his elbows. This guy is strong and his attitude sucks.”

The deputy marshals smiled. That was an understatement.

When the Hulk finally regained consciousness, he found himself hog-tied: leg shackles, waist chain, his hands cuffed behind his back and, like a ribbon on a Christmas present, his elbows pulled close together behind his back by a plastic tie.

“Get him up,” said Marshal Sugar.

Four marshals lifted the prisoner to his feet and steadied him. The Taser was hard on the body’s nervous system and short-circuited the brain.

“Okay,” said Marshal Sugar, “let’s go.”

The parade of marshals moved back to the Baron’s cell, two of the marshals almost dragging the Hulk along.

The Baron was quickly released from his bench and, like a black phalanx with two yellow figures in the middle, the procession walked back the way it had come.

The convicts were placed in separate vans, where they were chained to ring bolts, which sprouted from the floor. The Hulk’s elbow restraints were removed and his hands were double-cuffed in front. The Baron received the same treatment. Marshal Sugar was not a malicious man. He didn’t pull the wings off flies, and he didn’t torture criminals. Anyone who did that was lost already.

The cavalcade roared to life and drove out through the main gate. Marshal Sugar pulled a cell phone from his pocket. “We’re on our way,” he said into it. “ETA ten minutes.”

Five miles away, at the Crescent City airport, which was nothing more than a landing strip with a few small offices and a couple of old hangars, the pilots of an unmarked Boeing 727 began their final take-off check.

The Boeing 727 was a JPATS aircraft. JPATS stood for Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System. One of eight full-sized aircraft operated by JPATS, this plane was engaged in a high-priority transport flight for the Department of Justice. Its location was known only by a select few individuals, so that anyone who had an interest in sabotaging the flight could not do so. And since its convict-passengers would all be taken by surprise, none of them could plan their own escape or make arrangements for outside help in escaping.

Most JPATS employees, including the US marshals, called it Con Air.

Nine minutes later, the convoy arrived at the landing strip. The Baron and the Hulk were escorted onto the plane and seated. The Baron was seated six rows directly behind the Hulk, so that he could not communicate by means of hand signals. Both criminals received triple locked waist chains.

While the triple locking was taking place, Marshal Sugar told the two prisoners how it was going to be. “As long as you behave, you’ll only be restrained by handcuffs, waist chains and shackles. If you decide to act like buttholes, then we will treat you like buttholes. You’ll wear reinforced mittens”—he held up a pair of what appeared to be cyborg-like, mechanical mittens, which most of the marshals called “Dr. No hands” after the bad guy in the first James Bond movie—“and if you spit, bite or use abusive language, we will strap your head in this.” He held up what looked like a baseball catcher’s mask, one that had been specially modified to isolate and disable the wearer’s mouth.

“And if we have to,” continued the marshal, “I will shove a gag in your mouth and then duct tape your mouth closed.” He squinted at the two criminals. “So. The choice is yours.” He looked around at his deputy marshals. “We’re big believers in free will around here. You do as you choose. In response to your choice, we do as we choose.”

The deputy marshals nodded in agreement. They were highly-trained professionals, most of whom had served in the military before joining the US marshals service. The most important part of their marshal training was psychological. They were taught how to remain detached, cool and professional under the most provocative conditions. They didn’t lose their tempers and react violently, nor did they allow their personal prejudices to influence their treatment of prisoners. In other words, no petty abuses took place, as was often the case at correctional institutes.

Marshal Sugar said, “Okay. Let’s get this show on the road. We got places to go, people to see, things to do.”

The deputy marshals who worked with Sugar had heard that line a thousand times. It always made them smile. It meant they had more prisoners to pick up. In this particular case, eighteen more. All of them extremely violent. One of the men they would pick up was known as “the most dangerous man in prison.”

It should be an exciting day.

IT WAS CALLED OPERATION ARROW. Phase One was underway and involved the surprise collection and transportation of twenty brutal criminals, who were being held in maximum-security prisons all over the United States. After collection, the plane would fly back to Los Angeles international airport, where the prisoners would be escorted to various holding facilities until it was their turn for trial.

Twenty-three of the forty prisoners faced the possibility of the death penalty, if convicted. They were on trial for thirty-two murders and over 100 attempted murders, including stabbings, strangulations, poisonings, contract hits, and conspiracy to commit murder, most of which occurred inside prisons in the United States. But some of the murders had been committed outside prisons, in the real world.

Along with murder, other charges that faced the forty criminals included extortion, robbery, and narcotics trafficking.

The indictment had been filed by Assistant US Attorney Gregory Jessner. At 110 pages, the indictment was long and the result of many years of investigation.

Forty-two years old, Gregory Jessner was a slender man. He wore his brown hair short and appeared mild-mannered and soft-spoken. But Jessner was as smart as God, with a magnetic energy that pulsed inside him to power the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a bulldog.

Jessner had filed his lengthy indictment against these forty savage criminals for one simple reason: the death penalty appeared to be the only answer. Isolating these criminals in solitary confinement was ineffective, because they always found ways to communicate with each other. They bribed guards, used hand signals, or wrote in coded messages. In one instance, acting as their own defense attorneys, they had subpoenaed one another in order to appear at court hearings together. Such men, already destined to spend the rest of their lives in small, concrete boxes, merely laughed when the authorities added more time to their sentences. Who cared? It was like beating a dead horse.

Jessner decided the time had come to use his last resort—execute these super-criminals. “Capital punishment is the one arrow left in our quiver,” said Jessner. “I think even a lot of people who are against the death penalty in general would recognize that in this particular instance, where people are committing murder repeatedly from behind bars, there is little other option.”

Prosecutor Jessner was used to handling murder cases. It was part of his job. Yet he was struck by dismay when he considered the total indifference with which these men killed again and again. The slaughter of other human beings meant so little to them that they called it “taking care of business.” They thought of murder the way most people think about buying a pack of gum at the local 7-Eleven or a coffee-of-the-day at Starbuck’s. Murder was nothing but a regular activity of everyday life.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) would be the arrow Jessner drew from his quiver, a federal law used to pursue criminal organizations. Authored by G. Robert Blakely, the RICO Act came into being in 1970, its name deriving from the character that Blakey’s favorite actor, Edward G. Robinson, played in the movie Little Caeser.

Under the RICO Act anyone guilty of two or more of thirty-five stipulated crimes could be tried as a racketeer. The penalties imposed by the RICO Act were severe. Thus between the death penalty on the one hand, and the RICO Act on the other, Prosecutor Jessner hoped to conclude the murderous activities of these forty super-criminals.

“I suspect they kill more than the Mafia,” said Prosecutor Jessner. “They kill more than any single drug trafficker. There are a lot of gang-related deaths on the streets, but they are usually more disorganized and random.” He considered for a moment, and added, “I think they may be the most murderous criminal organization in the United States.”

WHEN PROSECUTOR JESSNER used the word “they” he meant the Aryan Brotherhood. The most violently ruthless gang in the world, the Aryan Brotherhood came to bloody birth in San Quentin prison in 1964. The prison population of San Quentin—called the ‘Q’—began choosing sides based on skin color. Blacks only socialized with other blacks. Hispanics refused to speak with anyone who wasn’t Hispanic. To protect themselves against the blacks and Hispanics, a few outlaw bikers—who were white—formed their own clique. Back then the cliques weren’t called gangs, they were called “tips.”

The black tip was the Black Guerilla Family, and had ties to the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. Mexican Mafia or La Eme was the name the Hispanics chose. The white boys called their tip the Diamond Tooth Gang, which referred to their teeth. To add an aura of fear and terror to their persona, the white guys glued bits of broken glass to their teeth. When they smiled, the sunlight glittered off the glass in their teeth as if they were diamonds.

After a while they changed the name from the Diamond Tooth Gang to the Blue Bird Gang. No one seems to know why exactly. Whatever the origin of the name, the Blue Bird Gang began to attract other white members at the ‘Q’. Soon this gang of “white warriors,” as they called themselves, dropped the Blue Bird name and designated themselves the Aryan Brotherhood—a direct reference to their skin color.

The Aryan Brotherhood recruited only the biggest, the baddest and the toughest white inmates. It was an exclusive order of white warriors. Their motto was “blood in, blood out.” This meant that each potential member had to “make his bones” before he became a full-fledged member. “Making one’s bones” meant spilling blood in hand-to-hand combat. Either the blood of another prisoner from a rival gang, or the blood of one of the guards. It didn’t matter which, but blood had to be spilled.

Once accepted, the member was branded with a tattoo. This idea was taken from the title of a very popular novel among white inmates—a Louis L’Amour western, The Brand.

Usually the actual Brand or tattoo was that of a green shamrock, the letters AB, or 666—the mark of the beast in the last book of the Bible. The Brand meant that the person was owned by the Aryan Brotherhood, and all its members were branded. The term “the rock” is specific to the shamrock brand that many members wore.

Each new member of the Aryan Brotherhood had to take the pledge:

An Aryan brother is without a care,
He walks where the weak and heartless won’t dare,
And if by chance he should stumble and lose control,
His brothers will be there, to help reach his goal,
For a worthy brother, no need is too great,
He need not but ask, fulfillment’s in his fate.
For an Aryan brother, death holds no fear,
Vengeance will be his, through his brothers still here.

This pledge had certain similarities to the religious vows taken by Japan’s kamikaze pilots in WWII, and the Thugs of India, who murdered and robbed in the name of Kali, goddess of destruction.

In the beginning, each member of the Aryan Brotherhood had a vote in all things, in every decision. So if some snitch was to be murdered, or a defector was to be killed as an example to what happened to such traitors, everyone voted and the majority ruled. But the democracy didn’t last long, because the Aryan Brotherhood was growing like a cancer. Within a few years, it had members in all of California’s prisons and many of the federal prisons in the United States. Older members realized that it was time for a change.

A three man commission was set up, which functioned as a blasphemous Father, Son and Holy Spirit of violence, murder and death. Commissioners made the big, strategic decisions for the Brotherhood. Under them were councils, which had five to seven members. The councils ran the day-to-day operations of the gang. They could order hits and contract murders, if necessary. Each prison system had its own council. For example, all the prisons in the state of California were governed by one five-man council. Texas had a council; Arizona had a council, and so on.

TYLER BINGHAM AND BARRY MILLS, aka the Baron, sat on the Commission of the Aryan Brotherhood. The third Commissioner was Thomas Silverstein, who was sometimes called Terrible Tom. More about him later.

These three men were the shotcallers, the terrible triumvirate of the Aryan Brotherhood. They decided who would live and who would die. Who would run drugs, who would rob banks, who would extort money, who would do their evil bidding. Their power was absolute. Anyone who stood in the way was killed. The long arm of the Aryan Brotherhood reached anywhere and everyone. [...]

Blood In, Blood Out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood by John Lee Brook. True Crime. From the dead centre of the enormous American penitentiary system, the Aryan Brotherhood was the lion that somehow seized control of the city as well as the zoo, steadily coming to dominate the billion dollar Methamphetamine industry that permeates America’s urban sprawl. More about this item»

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