White supremacist groups in the spotlight after high-profile murders By Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News Violent white supremacist prison gangs have crawled into the national spotlight over recent weeks amid speculation that groups in Texas and Colorado might be linked to the seemingly separate and so far unexplained murders of prominent officials in both states. Colorado authorities sought two men allegedly associated with the 211 Crew on Thursday, saying they might be connected to the death of department of corrections chief Tom Clements. The top state prisons official was shot dead on March 19, apparently after answering his home doorbell. And in Texas, where Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were gunned down in their home, possible involvement by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is among the leads being explored by investigators, federal prosecutors have told NBC News. Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was slain in a separate shooting about two months earlier. The 211 Crew began to form in Colorado prisons in 1995, naming themselves after the California penal code designation for robbery. Since then, the gang has grown to include several hundred members and has earned the dubious distinction of being “the dominant racist prison group in Colorado,” said Mark Pitcavage, director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League. Yet, unlike some racist gangs that formed in prisons but have since spilled outside their walls, the 211 Crew has a stronger presence behind bars then out on the streets. Gang members are often tattooed with a “patch” showing the numbers 211, clenched hands holding lightning bolts, and a Norse “othala” rune favored by neo-Nazis, Pitcavage said. The chief suspect in Clements death, 28-year-old ex-convict Evan Spencer Ebel, is thought to have been a member of the 211 Crew. He died in a shootout with Texas police on March 21. That authorities were seeking other alleged 211 Crew associates in their investigation of Clements’ death was a sign they were probing the extent of the gang’s involvement, Pitcavage said. While dominant in Colorado, the 211 Crew is small compared to white supremacist prison gangs in some other states. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was formed in the hothouse racial atmosphere of Texas’ recently desegregated penitentiaries in the 1980s as a coalition between members of two formerly distinct gangs. Despite the name and shared ideology, the group has no official affiliation with one of the granddaddies of white hate gangs, the Aryan Brotherhood gang that coalesced in the California prison systems in the 1960s. Law enforcement in Texas were keeping the 2,000-strong Aryan Brotherhood of Texas under close observation well before the McLellands' violent deaths. The FBI indicted 34 alleged members of the gang in Houston on racketeering charges in November, a round up authorities called a “devastating blow.” Ten alleged ABT members could face the death penalty if they are convicted, and Texas law enforcement agencies had warned that members might “retaliate.” .