A man found guilty of multiple violent crimes ten months ago has been sentenced to life behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield in East Texas issued Jesse Paul Blankenship’s life sentence in federal prison on September 8, according to the U.S. Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office in East Texas.
Blankenship, 39, was found guilty on November 16, 2021, of kidnapping in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit a kidnapping in aid of racketeering, and racketeering conspiracy.
Hailing from Missouri, Blankenship was said to have violently burned a tattoo off a man’s skin with a metal rod he had heated with a blowtorch. It was discovered that he also participated in a kidnapping and opened fire on two people in their home.
Federal authorities who had Blankenship on their radar for a while showed evidence proving his affiliation with the Aryan Circle — one of the country’s most notorious neo-Nazi prison gangs and his involvement in crimes committed on their behest between 2010 and 2021.
Blankenship moved up in the leadership ranks of the Aryan Circle gang, eventually gaining the authority to order fellow gang members to commit violent crimes.
Although founded as a rival splinter group of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas in 1985, the Aryan Circle has gained a standing reputation as one of the most ruthless, race-based prison gangs in Texas and at large.
Over the course of 35 years, the gang has dramatically expanded, permeating the prison system. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has said that the Aryan Circle is the second-largest prison gang in Texas.
Authorities said it has been involved in senseless murders, attacks on law enforcement, methamphetamine trafficking, and other punishable crimes.
“We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who advocate harm to others and to specifically target the leaders of violent gangs,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherstone from the Eastern District of Texas.
The special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Dallas, Fred Milanowski, said in his statement that the case proves federal agents’ resolve to hold members of violent gangs that perpetrate heinous crimes accountable.
While trafficking heavy drugs and arms is very regular with this gang, the Anti-Defamation League Watchdog has reported that the Aryan Circle members tend to commit hate crimes against people of color, the LGBTQ community, and other minority groups.