Prison gang typical, defense argues

Federal prosecutors paraded nearly 100 witnesses onto the witness stand during the past four weeks in an attempt to paint a vivid picture of the Aryan Warriors, a group the government says is a criminal enterprise that has terrorized the Nevada prison system for years.

The prosecution wrapped up its case Thursday, and this morning defense attorneys will start the task of portraying a different scenario.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that the Aryan Warriors are a prison gang but said they are no different than Hispanic or black gangs in the system.

Several witnesses have testified that inmates in the prison system typically hang out with their own race to protect themselves from attacks from rivals. They said there are several gangs in the prisons.

The defense will attempt to prove the Aryan Warriors were no different.

“This is a prison gang, not a racketeering organization,” said defense attorney Chris Rasmussen.

Jurors have heard from former Aryan Warriors who testified about the hierarchy of the gang and how attacks were carried out.

Orders were passed along in notes delivered by “Cadillacing,” tying a piece of paper to a string and flinging it across the hallway floors into a nearby cell.

Jurors were told about making weapons and shanks used to stab incoming child molesters or inmates who fell sideways with the clan. Even fellow members who failed to follow the brotherhood’s guidelines were attacked. Inmates were jumped in cells, set on fire in the yard and stabbed while in custody of security guards.

Violence was the key to ascend in status, advertised by getting lightning bolt tattoos.

Female acquaintances of Aryan Warriors testified how they received coded orders to bring in drugs to sell or ingest. They obliged by stuffing methamphetamine or marijuana into balloons and muling them into the prison in their bodies.

Attorneys, guards and corrections officers delivered drugs, government witness Michael Alvarez testified.

Roommates of Aryan Warriors who had been freed told about life on the outside. Gang members had frequent contact with brothers still in prison and spent much of their free time working on vehicles and manufacturing methamphetamine.

To secure a conviction, prosecutors must persuade jurors that the gang is a criminal enterprise that conspired to take control of prison yards by selling drugs, running illegal gambling operations, assigning and executing attacks and corrupting prison guards.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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