In the Courts: Aryan Circle member sentenced to almost 11 years in federal lock-up

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For the next decade, a gang member of the Aryan Circle will spend Christmas in federal prison after being sentenced today for being an accessory-after-the-fact to racketeering murder.

In pleading guilty to the accessory charge last August, Leland Edward Hamm, 44, admitted to being an accessory to the murder of Hallmark on or around July 1, 2016, when a fellow Aryan Circle member shot Clifton Hallmark in the side of his head at point blank range at a so-called Aryan Circle “church” meeting in Turkey Creek, La. 

U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell sentenced Hamm, 44, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to 130 months in prison and three years of supervised release for being an accessory-after-the-fact in the violent crimes in aid of the racketeering in Hallmark’s murder.  

According to Hamm’s plea agreement, the Aryan Circle is a race-based, multi-state organization that operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas, Louisiana, and the United States. 

The Aryan Circle was established in the mid-1980s within the Texas prison system (TDCJ). 

Recently, the Aryan Circle’s structure and influence expanded to rural and suburban areas throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri. 

The Aryan Circle emerged as an independent organization during a period of turmoil within the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). 

The Aryan Circle was relatively small in comparison to other prison-based gangs, but grew in stature and influence within TDCJ in the 1990s, largely through violent conflict with other gangs, white and non-white alike. 

The plea agreement further alleges that the Aryan Circle enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the organization. 

Members, and often, associates, are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members without question.

Hamm admitted to being a member of the Aryan Circle criminal enterprise, according to David C. Joseph, U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Louisiana and Brian A. Benczkowski, assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

This case is being investigated by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Louisiana State Police; Evangeline Parish, (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office; Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office; Texas Department of Public Safety; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; New Jersey Department of Corrections-Special Investigations Division; Arnold (Missourt) Police Department; Jefferson County (Missouri) Sheriff’s Department; St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; St. Louis County (Missouri) Police Department; Montgomery County (Texas) Precinct 1 Constable’s Office; Indiana State Police; Indiana Department of Corrections; Carrollton (Texas) Police Department; Waller (Texas) Police Department; Montgomery County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office; Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office and the Tarrant County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office.

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