Aryan Brotherhood Tried for 40 Years of Prison Mayhem

"They're very sophisticated; they've evolved as would a mutant virus that reacts to efforts to stamp it out by mutating into new forms that are more resistant to either detection or prevention," said Armour. "Even with 23-hour confinement and the other kinds of limitations placed on them, they've shown quite remarkable ingenuity and inventiveness in promoting and perpetuating their criminal enterprise."

Will a successful prosecution in these cases make any meaningful difference in the violent and destabilizing effect the group has in the prisons?

Armour said that is the government's hope. "The idea behind the prosecution is that if these leaders are eliminated or more constrained, then the organization itself will atrophy without its head. As goes the head, goes the body, is their theory," he said. "On the other hand, if this is a more bottom-up kind of phenomenon, then the old leaders may simply be replaced by new ones."

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