Mystery surrounds death of Aryan Brotherhood boss

Associated Press/June 8, 2011

The death of Frank E. Roch Jr. has been a mystery for US police from the moment Houston officers found the heavily tattooed man dying slumped in his pick-up truck that had crashed beside a Houston freeway.

First, there were all of the different identification cards he had on and around him - so many, in fact, that investigators had trouble identifying him. Indeed, it would be hours before they learned the man had headed the largest faction of one of Texas's most infamous criminal gangs.

Roch, 54, commanded about 1500 members of the white-supremacist Aryan Brotherhood of Texas inside prisons and outside, investigators said.

"It was widely understood, at least in law enforcement circles, he was the general of generals," US Attorney John Bales of Houston told the Houston Chronicle.

That has only made investigators more eager to learn the circumstances of his death after he was found beside US 59 on the night of May 19.

"It is an open case. Witnesses reported seeing the vehicle swerve and strike a concrete barrier," Houston police spokesman Kese Smith said.

The Harris County medical examiner's office has not determined what killed the Baytown man known to associates as "Pancho". His remains were cremated after his funeral on May 25.

Prison photos show the word "loyalty" tattooed across Roch's chest, the Chronicle reported. He also had tattoos of the gang's shield, including a swastika, and a star showing his rank of general and chairman.

In recent years, federal indictments have targeted members of the Aryan Brotherhood for a variety of crimes, including murder, assaults and extortion.

According to one indictment, "members are required to sign a blind-faith commitment in which they agree to do anything directed or requested by their superiors without question. Failure to comply may result in severe beatings, known as beat-downs, or deaths".

On Thursday, a Houston man pleaded guilty in federal court in San Antonio to a racketeering charge and could get a life sentence for the slaying of a fellow member of the group.

On May 25, an East Texas man was sentenced to life in federal prison for the murders of a man and woman on the orders of an Aryan Brotherhood leader.

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