The tattoos of a Texas Aryan Brotherhood member

A recent US federal investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has uncovered cooperation between the violent white supremacist gang and the Gulf Cartel, an example of increasing business relationships between Mexican drug trafficking organizations and US street and prison gangs.

Richard Boehning, an agent with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), told reporters that an arrested member of the Texas Aryan Brotherhood, James Sharron, alias "Flounder," has confessed to serving as a go-between for the gang and the Gulf Cartel, reported Notimex. Sharron also admitted to moving hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine over the border into Texas for distribution.

Authorities indicated that Sharron may have facilitated the connection between the Aryan Brotherhood and the Gulf Cartel around 10 years ago, after he was released from a US prison and began working in Monterrey, Mexico.

InSight Crime Analysis

It may seem puzzling that a white supremacist gang would work with a Mexican criminal organization, but the collaboration is not unusual for the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. In the past it has collaborated with the Mexican Mafia in Texas and with Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations in a number of criminal activities, including human trafficking, cross-border arms dealing, and drug smuggling.

As the FBI's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment reports, collaboration between Mexican criminal organizations and US gangs is lucrative for both parties. For the Mexican cartels, US-based allies are valuable assets; US citizens can cross the US-Mexico border more easily  than Mexicans can, and US gangs can carry out hits and intimidate cartel rivals in American cities. For the US gangs, access to the Mexican cartels' wholesale supply of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines brings large financial gains.

While fears of an "invasion" of Mexican criminal gangs into the US have been overblown, collaboration between large Mexican drug trafficking organizations and US street and prison gangs has altered the dynamics of the wholesale drug market in the US. The ability to obtain large amounts of drugs at lower prices directly from Mexican cartels has allowed some US gangs to eliminate mid-level dealers and consolidate control over drug distribution and retail in smaller markets.