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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Defendant In Aryan Brotherhood Prison Drug Sales Case Argued Feds Had ‘No Right’ To Search Contraband Prison Phone. A Judge Didn’t Go For It

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat 

Case tied to interstate meth trafficking

Fresno, California - A federal judge struck down an attempt by an alleged Aryan Brotherhood associate to argue that the search of his contraband prison cellphone violated the U.S. Constitution.

Had U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd accepted the defense argument, it likely would have dealt a serious blow to a federal methamphetamine and heroin trafficking case aimed at members and associates of the all-white prison gang. Instead, Drozd ruled that federal agents didn’t even need a warrant to search inmate Kenneth Bash’s phone, but they got one anyway.

“In short, because he was incarcerated in state prison and not allowed to possess a contraband cellphone, defendant has failed to establish that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of that contraband cellphone,” Drozd wrote.

 “Regardless of his lack of standing to challenge the search of the contraband cellphone, federal agents obtained a valid warrant to search the contents of the cellphone, which cured any taint even if the initial download of that phone’s contents by state law enforcement officers were to be found unlawful.”

Bash was among dozens charged in federal and state court after an investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood and a white gang based in Fresno. Prosecutors allege Bash was a prison “shot caller” who worked with the Aryan Brotherhood’s Todd “Fox” Morgan to control drug sales inside and outside of prison.

Bash’s attorney, W. Scott Quinlan, argued in his motion to suppress that the cellphone evidence that Anthony Gonzalez, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, conducted a warrantless search of Bash’s phone and that the subsequent wiretaps were “fruit from the poisonous tree.”

The investigation involved probes into the Sinaloa Cartel as well as a group of drug traffickers in Montana who were also indicted on federal charges. Morgan and Bash were incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison’s B-Yard during the alleged offenses but Bash used a contraband cellphone to coordinate drug shipments on the outside, according to prosecutors.

The big break in the case came when Bash allegedly exited his cell holding the phone in plain view and a prison guard saw it, according to the guard’s report. Authorities also obtained wiretaps and even recorded conversations between Mexican Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood associates discussing how the police intercepted one of their drug shipments.

The federal and state operation was known as Operation Lucky Charm, an apparent tip-of-the-cap to the Aryan Brotherhood’s symbol, a shamrock.

The Eastern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, has also filed still-pending racketeering and murder charges against other alleged AB members in 2019, including a fatal stabbing on the Salinas Valley B-Yard, allegedly committed by Brant “Two Scoops” Daniel. Like this case, much of that evidence is based on wiretaps and searches of contraband prison phones, and involves allegations that gangs were running massive drug rings from inside prison walls.

Mercury News


  1. Well of course not. Prisoners and parolees unfortunately wave their rights when convicted of a crime.

  2. They really trying to put all these dudes in adx

  3. The Irish clover with a swastika? ?????

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I do AB. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Is it me or is it I who... no... it is my brother's and me who drink this brand. Cell Publishing. The conglomerate of books written in a room with or without another.


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