2018-07-26 05:52:12 UTC
By Sam Roberts, July 20, 2018, NY Times
Barry Mills, the brutal leader of the white supremacist prison gang
called the Aryan Brotherhood, died on July 8 behind bars, where he had
spent nearly three-quarters of his life, transforming himself from a
teenage misfit to a charismatic national crime boss. He was 70.
His death, a day after his birthday, was confirmed by the Federal
Bureau of Prisons. He had been serving four life terms at the maximum
security penitentiary in Florence, Colo., where he was found dead in
his cell. Randy Keller, the Fremont County coroner, said there was no
evidence of foul play.
Bald, brawny and mustachioed, Mr. Mills sported sinister dark
sunglasses (his eye had been injured in a prison brawl) and was known
deferentially as the Baron.
But his avocation defied the stereotype of a vengeful killer: He
Barry Mills crochets!, his lawyer, Mark Montgomery, all but bellowed
in 2006 to the jury considering charges that Mr. Mills and other gang
leaders had ordered 15 executions, some of them successful. Does that
sound like the hobby of a coldblooded murderer?
Mr. Mills was among 40 people indicted in 2002 for committing 32
murders, or trying to. They were charged under the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, typically invoked to
prosecute organized-crime figures.
In a case against four of the ringleaders that took four months to
present in 2006, the government played tape-recorded phone calls and
videos and exhibited a coded message, written in urine, that declared
war in 1997 against an African-American rival gang, the D.C. Blacks,
in the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa. The battle left two members of
the D.C. Blacks dead.
The four defendants, including Mr. Mills and Tyler D. Bingham, the
second in command of the Aryan Brotherhood, were found guilty of
racketeering and conspiracy and of murders dating to 1979.
Mr. Mills was also convicted of inciting the Lewisburg riot, and of
the attempted decapitation in 1979 of an inmate in a bathroom stall of
the federal prison in Atlanta for cheating the Brotherhood in a drug
The jurors deadlocked on imposing the death penalty for Mr. Mills and
Mr. Bingham, which the government had hoped would purge the Aryan
Brotherhood from the prison system once and for all. But they were
persuaded to return guilty verdicts on virtually every count.
The real reason for their murders, the prosecutor argued, is
because Barry Mills and Tyler Bingham believe that they have the right
the sovereign right to dispense life and death.
Mr. Mills was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility
The Aryan Brotherhood originated in San Quentin State Prison in
California around 1964 and metastasized to lockups around the country.
Its members, all white, claimed that they had banded together to
protect themselves against gangs of black and Mexican inmates.
But the authorities eventually implicated the Brotherhood in
monopolizing drug dealing, gambling, extortion, prostitution and other
prison rackets, as well as murdering guards and rivals, fomenting
racial warfare among prisoners, recruiting ex-convicts as accessories
and even extorting tribute from John Gotti, the Mafia boss. Mr. Gotti
was assaulted by a black fellow inmate in 1996 after he had stopped
paying the Aryan Brotherhood for protection.
The Aryan Brotherhood, also known as the Brand members were
tattooed, typically with a green shamrock, the abbreviation AB or the
number 666, known in the Bible as the number of the beast was a
hierarchical gang headed by a two- or three-member commission, which
had included Mr. Mills since around 1980.
Barry Byron Mills was born on July 7, 1948, in Windsor, Calif., a tiny
grape-growing town near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County.
As an antsy 19-year-old with felonious ambitions, he headed south for
Ventura, where, as he alighted from a Greyhound bus, he was arrested
on charges of stealing a car from his hometown country club. He was
remanded to the Sonoma County Honor Farm. He escaped after a few
When he was a teenager, Barry Mills made an error in judgment, as
boys sometimes do, his lawyer, Frank Sansoni, explained to the jury
in his 2006 trial.
It was not a big mistake, but it was big enough to put him on a path
to prison instead of to reform. Yet in spite of his harsh environment
as a tender youth, Mr. Sansoni added, he tried not to emulate the
typical inmate the sort who became a snitch and testified against
Mr. Mills had reason to resent informers.
A week after his escape from the honor farm, he and a partner robbed a
7-Eleven store of $775. They were arrested three hours later.
Incriminated by his accomplice, Mr. Mills was sentenced to five years
in San Quentin, where he eagerly insinuated himself into the newly
organized Aryan Brotherhood.
Shortly after he was released in 1977, he was arrested and charged
with plotting a bank robbery in Fresno with other gang members while
they were all in San Quentin. The robbers expected to net at least $2
million. They escaped with all of $21,000, until another informant
gave them away. Mr. Mills was caught, convicted and sentenced to 20
years in a federal prison.
He was also convicted in 2006 on the basis of statements from former
gang members, who defense lawyers said had been promised favorable
treatment in return for their testimony.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.
Prison was supposed to be a place of punishment, but Barry Mills
loved it, John Lee Brook wrote in Blood In, Blood Out: The Violent
Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood (2011).
Prison was a whole different world, where everything was deviant and
primordial, Mr. Brook added. Power was the only rule. Outside prison
he had felt like a leper, unclean and shunned, but inside prison Barry
Mills was on top.
Blood in, blood out was the gangs code, prosecutors said. It meant
that an initiate had to kill to join, and that the only way to leave
was to die.
There is justified violence in our society, Mr. Mills once
explained. If you disrespect me or one of my friends, I will readily
and to the very best of my ability engage you in a full combat mode.
Thats what Im about.