A member of the white supremacist group Aryan Brotherhood of Texas pleaded guilty to attempted murder and conspiracy just before noon Tuesday in federal court, Local 2 Investigates has confirmed.
The United States Attorney's Office has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to discuss the high-profile case.
Rusty Eugene Duke's guilty plea is part of a massive effort by the United States Justice Department, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston, to take down members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas involved in committing crimes.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is accused of carrying out murders, attempting to murder people, arsons, assaults, robberies and drug trafficking since 1993.
In 2012, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the gang used "extreme violence and threats of violence to maintain internal discipline and retaliate against those believed to be cooperating with law enforcement."
Duke faced two conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise charges and two attempted murder charges.
Duke was among the second batch of alleged gang members indicted in 2012. The cases were one of the largest racketeering cases brought that year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch blog. The first batch of charges against 36 alleged members came in 2011, according to law enforcement.
The investigation conducted by federal agents included hundreds of interviews and spent more than 1,000 hours investigating, including doing surveillance, focusing on the gang's associates, soldiers and generals, rankings used by member of the gang, according to law enforcement.
The U.S. Justice Department brought in a dedicated prosecutor from its main office in Washington, D.C., to help prosecute the cases. That is an uncommon move, but several in law enforcement sources tell Local 2 Investigative Reporter Jace Larson that signifies the magnitude of the investigation.
In the second batch, Duke was indicted by a federal grand jury along with Terry Ross Blake, Larry Max Bryan, James Lawrence Burns, Rebecca Johnson Cropp, Ben Christian Dillon, Kelly Ray Elley, Destiny Nicole Feathers, Chad Ray Folmsbee, Samantha Deann Goldman, Kenneth Michael Hancock, Dustin Lee Harri, Benjamin Troy Johnson, Clay Jarrad Kirkland, Michael Richard Lamphere, Jamie Grant Loveall, William David Maynard , Shane Gail McNiel, James Marshall Meldrum, Glen Ray Millican, Jr., Christopher James Morris, Stephen Tobin Mullen, Justin Christopher Northrup, Ronald Lee Prince, Charles Lee Roberts, David Orlando Roberts, Billy Don Seay, James Erik Sharron, Sammy Keith Shipman, Brian Lee Thomas, Fredrick Michal Villarreal, Tammy Melissa Wall, Billy Frank Weatherred and Steven Worthey.
Stay with Click2Houston.com and Local 2 News for the latest developments on this story. And be sure to follow Jace Larson on social media for updates throughout the day.