Life In Prison Didn't Stop Oklahoma Inmate From Running Meth Ring, Prosecutors Say
A man serving life in prison for the murder of Pawnee County Sheriff Dwight Woodrell has been indicted in federal court this week for racketeering.
Federal prosecutors say far from going to prison to learn his lesson, James Taylor became a powerful member of the Universal Aryan Brotherhood gang and ran their meth operation, even though he was doing it from inside Oklahoma's most secure prison; Big Mac in McAlester.
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James Taylor and Justin Walker were both convicted of second-degree murder for the 2001 execution of Pawnee County Sheriff Dwight Woodrell. Sheriff Woodrell had stopped at an oil business in Cleveland to investigate suspicious activity and only had time to radio for help.
His deputies found him shot six times, execution style, still inside his patrol car. He was 36 years old, had been married 12 years, and was the father of four children.
Years ago, Woodrell's family and citizens were outraged that killer Justin Walker was posting prison pictures on Facebook with a contraband phone, showing him posing and getting high. Now, they learn James Taylor is one of 18 gang members indicted for selling meth, ordering murders, car jackings, kidnappings, assaults, and home invasions.
Prosecutors say it all happened through the use of contraband cell phones.
"They haven't been just sitting there, lying there, quietly trying to rehabilitate themselves, they've actually committing other crimes," said Dennis Fries with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say they hope to dismantle the gang by spreading them out to different prisons all over the U.S.
Sheriff Woodrell's widow, Karen Woodrell Garner, says, “It’s scary to know that these criminals have such a far reach outside of prison. We think we are safer once they are locked up, but it appears they band together and commit more and more crimes. It’s very disappointing that these criminals have the opportunity to continue to do this and that the FCC doesn’t allow the prisons to use some type of jamming device. Hopefully, this will ensure he will never be released.”
Taylor, along with the others indicted, all pled not guilty to the charges.