SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A Missouri man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for racketeering and corrupt organizations violations stemming from his membership in white supremacy prison gang, the Aryan Circle, according to US Attorney Brit Featherston.
The case was investigated by a number of agencies, including the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.
Jesse Paul “JP” Blankenship, 39, was convicted in November on charges of racketeering conspiracy, kidnapping in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit kidnapping in aid of racketeering.
“Evidence presented at trial showed that between 2010 and 2021, Blankenship ‘put in work’ by committing violence on behalf of the gang, including shooting at two victims inside their home and participating in a kidnapping and removal of another member’s patch, or gang tattoo, by burning it from the victim’s skin using a metal rod heated with a blowtorch,” officials said. “After committing these crimes, Blankenship moved up in rank in Aryan Circle and has since ordered additional acts of violence.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at his trial, Aryan Circle is a race-based, violent prison gang with hundreds of members operating throughout the country, both inside and outside of prison.
“This case exemplifies great collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement to not only stop gang violence in prison, but also to protect innocent persons when that activity overflows into our communities,” Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who advocate harm to others, and to specifically target the leaders of violent gangs.”
The case was investigated by the following agencies:
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Houston Police Department-Gang Division
- Montgomery County Precinct One Constable’s Office (TX)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- New Jersey Department of Corrections-Special Investigations Division
- Indiana State Police; Fort Smith Police Department (AR)
- Arkansas Department of Corrections
- Arnold Police Department (MO)
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department (MO)
- St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
- St. Louis County Police Department (MO)
- Indiana Department of Corrections
- Carrollton Police Department (TX)
- Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (TX)
- Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TX)
- Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office (TX)
- Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office (LA)
- Smith County Sheriff’s Office (TX)
- McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office (OK)
- Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office (TX)
- Liberty County District Attorney’s Office (TX)
- Harris County District Attorney’s Office (TX)
- Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (NJ)
- Evangeline Parish District Attorney’s Office (LA)
- Sebastian County District Attorney’s Office (AR)
Officials said valuable assistance was also provided by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.