Three individuals connected to the Aryan Circle (AC) prison gang have pleaded guilty to federal violations, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei and Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division today.
Anthony Levi Cochran, 39, of Bullard, Texas pleaded guilty today to charges related to an October 2016 violent assault in the Eastern District of Texas. Specifically, he admitted to assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering, as well as conspiracy to sell firearms to a convicted felon. Cochran committed the assault as part of his membership in the AC.
Additionally, Breanna Beckley, 40, of Moberly, Missouri, pleaded guilty on June 29, 2021, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, namely 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. Shane Louque, 46, of Gonzales, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to the same charges today.
“In the battle against organized, multistate criminal organizations, agency cooperation is essential,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Criminals carry on their illegal and violent conduct in whatever jurisdiction benefits them the most, so we need to bring the fight to them, wherever they might be.”
The AC is a violent, white supremacist organization that originated in the Texas Department of Corrections and operates in federal prisons across the country, as well as outside prisons in states including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri. The AC enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through murder, attempted murder, assault, and threats. Members, and oftentimes associates, are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members without question.
Cochran’s offense conduct included planning and participating in the events surrounding a violent beating of another AC member who wanted to switch his gang affiliation, or “patch over,” from the AC to a different gang. Cochran and other AC members carried out the attack in order to “X,” or remove, the AC member from the gang, because it violated the AC’s rules to join another organization. According to court documents, Beckley transported between 1.5 and 5 kilograms of methamphetamine in 2016, from Houston, Texas, to buyers in Louisiana, such as Louque and other AC members. The drug conspiracy that Beckley and Louque pleaded to was uncovered as part of Operation Noble Virtue, an investigation into the AC that has targeted AC leadership.
Cochran was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 7, 2020. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Beckley and Louque were also indicted on Oct. 7, 2020, and each face up to life in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentences prescribed by Congress are provided here for information purposes, as the sentencings will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the U.S. Probation Office.
This case is being investigated by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) consisting of the 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 (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.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Rapp of the Eastern District of Texas is prosecuting these cases along with trial attorneys from the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Department of Justice.