Battling the Brotherhood: Orange County law enforcers receive commendations for ABT investigation

Battling the Brotherhood: Orange County law enforcers receive commendations for ABT investigation

Two investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office have been recognized by the United States Department of Justice for their outstanding efforts toward preventing and ending organized crime and for pursuing affiliates of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a deadly white supremacist organization.

According to Sheriff Keith Merritt, Captain Thomas Ray and Sergeant Joey Jacobs were presented with Certificates of Commendation from Larry Sanders, Resident Agent in Charge of the Beaumont ATF Field Office, on Feb. 8 at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Agent Sanders advised that the Certificates of Commendation were issued by the United States Department of Justice Organized Crime and Gang Section in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for the OCSO investigators’ involvement in a six-year investigative effort by a multi-agency task force into the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) that ultimately led to the conviction of 73 ABT members and associates, including 36 high ranking leaders of the ABT, in cases prosecuted in the Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Texas, Western District of Texas, Northern District of Texas and Western District of Oklahoma.

John Oliver Manning, aka “Fish,” 52, of Pasadena, and co-defendant Joshua Mark Bodine, aka “Desperado,” 32, of Vidor, were indicted by a federal grand jury March 17, 2011, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity as a result of the ABT investigation in which Ray and Jacobs participated. The pair was arrested after Manning shot and wounded ABT associate Matthew Fails in Nederland on Bodine’s order Sept. 7, 2009.

According to court records, ABT is a highly structured organization run by five generals, each of whom oversees one of five geographic regions of Texas and sits on a steering committee (known to ABT affiliates as “The Wheel”). Each general supervises two chains of command —one on the “inside” and one on the “outside” of prison. Reporting to each general is an “inside major” and an “outside major,” and each major oversees several captains, lieutenants and sergeants-at-arms and numerous soldiers. The ABT enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, robbery and threats against those who violate ABT rules or who are believed to pose a threat to the enterprise.

Sgt. Jacobs said he was honored by the commendation and that he was one “spoke in the wheel” of justice.

“A lot of people deserve recognition for their work on this investigation,” said Jacobs. “It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.”

Sheriff Merritt said he was honored to have two investigators from his office recognized by the Department of Justice and the ATF. Merritt also noted that while these cases represent a “big blow to the command structure of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas,” he understands that someone is always willing to take the place of those sent to prison. He advised his agency will continue to make a diligent effort to combat any criminal activity in order to make Orange County a safe place to live, work and raise a family.