Brownwood man sentenced to 25 years for role in prison gang drug ring
FORT WORTH, Texas - A Brownwood man and six others were sentenced by a federal judge Tuesday for their roles in a drug ring operated by a notorious prison gang.
Billy Ray Skaggs, 48, of Brownwood was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his role in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy run by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
Three members of the drug ring were sentenced to life: Kevin "Kilo" Kyle Killough, 29, of Fort Worth, Michael "Whisper" Clay Heaslet, 38, of Fort Worth, and Trae "Twig" Short, 31, of Dallas.
Four, including Skaggs, received lesser sentences. Charles "Pretty Boy" Ben Bounds, 32, and Billy Fred Gentry, 30, both of Fort Worth, were sentenced to 30 years. Nicole "Nikki Single" Cynthia Herrera, 21, of Dallas, was given 25 years.
The drug ring operated in north Texas from approximately January 2014 to April of 2016.
In September of 2016, a federal jury convicted the seven defendants of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine after a four day trial. One defendant, James Marcus Laxson, was acquitted.
The government presented evidence at trial that some of the defendants were members, including ranking members, or associates, of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is similarly named but unrelated to the Aryan Brotherhood.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "the ABT has a clearly white supremacist, if somewhat muddled, ideology. But it is an ideology that comes second to financial considerations, with members working with non-white criminals or non-white prison gangs if it will be profitable for them to do so."
The Southern Poverty Law center estimates that as of 2012, the ABT had an estimated 2,600 members in Texas prisons and another 180 in federal prisons. Those numbers do not account for members on the street.
The government presented further evidence identifying the defendants and the role of each in the conspiracy. Text messages from some defendants' phones, and recordings of phone calls from jail were introduced that detailed their methamphetamine trafficking.