Aryan Circle Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison for Racketeering Violations

Published 4:24 pm Thursday, September 8, 2022

BEAUMONT, Texas –A Stratford, Missouri man has been sentenced for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations stemming from his membership in the white supremacy prison gang, the Aryan Circle, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.

Jesse Paul Blankenship, 39, also known as JP, was convicted at trial on Nov. 16, 2021, of racketeering conspiracy, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping in aid of racketeering.  He was sentenced to life in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Aryan Circle is a race-based, violent prison gang with hundreds of members operating throughout the country, both inside and outside of prisons.  The Aryan Circle enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through threats, intimidation, assaults, and murder.

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. After committing these crimes, Blankenship moved up in rank in Aryan Circle and has since ordered additional acts of violence.

“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, said Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.  “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who advocate harm to others, and to specifically target the leaders of violent gangs.”

“Violent gangs pose a growing threat to our communities and the type of violence associated with these organizations has reach an intolerable level,” said ATF SAC Fred Milanowski.  “This case demonstrates that members of violent gangs that engage in heinous crimes will be held accountable.”

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

The case was investigated by the following agencies: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; Texas Department of Public Safety; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Montgomery County (TX) Precinct One Constable’s Office; 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 (AR) Police Department; Arkansas Department of Corrections; Arnold (MO) Police Department; Jefferson County (MO) Sheriff’s Department; St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; St. Louis County (MO) Police Department; Indiana Department of Corrections; Carrollton (TX) Police Department; Montgomery County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Travis County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Evangeline Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office; Smith County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; McCurtain County (OK) Sheriff’s Office; Montgomery County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Liberty County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Harris County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Mercer County (NJ) Prosecutor’s Office; Evangeline Parish (LA) District Attorney’s Office; and the Sebastian County (AR) District Attorney’s Office. Valuable assistance was provided by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Rapp of the Eastern District of Texas along with Trial Attorney Rebecca Dunnan of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted this case.