The Dixie Mafia
Let’s go back to the 1960’s, when a group of loose-knit traveling criminals committing burglary, robbery, and outright theft began operating in this area of Texas. Based out of Biloxi, Mississippi, they ranged all over the South, and became known as the Dixie Mafia. This gang operated without a set chain of command; instead, the man with the most money was in charge. However, despite the informal structure, the Dixie Mafia had one strict rule that had to be obeyed: Thou shalt not snitch to the cops.
Unlike other gangs, like the Sicilian Mafia, the members of the Dixie Mafia were not connected by family ties or a shared country of origin. Instead, they were loosely connected individuals of varying ethnicities with a common goal: to make money and wield power over illegal moneymaking operations, by any means necessary, including influence peddling, or buying political favors, bribery of public officials, and murder.
The gang became known for carrying out contract killings, particularly against former members. During its heyday, from the early 1970s to the late 1980s, members of the gang murdered dozens of people. Victims were most often killed because they testified, or threaten to testify, against fellow gang members. One contract killer, William Miller (nicknamed “Blue Eyes”), was said to have carried out the majority of the murders, however, this could not be proved due to lack of information and evidence.
In Texas, a man named Darrel Ward of Clarksville is believed to have been a shot caller and known associate of notorious gangster, and Chicago Outfit boss, Sam “Momo” Giancana. Evidence to substantiate this is sparse, but every legend starts with somewhere, and the best criminals are the ones who keep a low enough profile to avoid being caught. Ward is believed to have controlled most of the bootlegging throughout Texas, and Leon County was connected to Ward through the distribution and sale of illegal alcohol. In dry counties, local authorities would be involved and were paid a percentage of the sales. If you lived in Leon County in the 1970s, you probably remember seeing (or buying from) the same bootleggers, who never seemed to get arrested. Everyone knew they sold illegal alcohol, but because public officials were being paid, no one wanted to disrupt good business. Bootlegging continued to be big business into the 1980s, although by that time the shift to trafficking in narcotics was taking place.
The Dixie Mafia allegedly received protection in Leon County from Sheriff Royce Wilson and his crew, which even included a County Commissioner. Sheriff Wilson, the commissioner, Ward, and Giacana are now deceased, as are many of the old crews (if they aren’t in prison), but the corruption and greed they stood for is still deeply entrenched in the system. New faces and new games have come to replace them, largely in the form of Mexican cartels who import illegal narcotics and human beings. In some areas, the authorities provide the cartels protection for a price, and do not interfere with their operations. You may perhaps find this idea shocking. If so, I recommend you do some research and reading about the spread of narcotics and the placement of the cartels in Texas in recent years. The reach of the cartels is pushing ever northward, and it would be naive to think they accomplished that while being opposed at every turn by all of the law enforcement they encountered.
If murder, forgery, and theft aren’t enough to raise your ire, perhaps you could be moved by tales of human trafficking that have come from early informants who have escaped from the cartels. Unwilling human beings, men, women, and children, are kidnapped and then used like disposable goods for the benefit of their pimps and the cartels. Human trafficking is a large problem for Texas with its coastal cities and international border. Greed is a powerful motivator, and if local authorities will not scruple to cover up murder, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t batt an eye at human trafficking. Along a stretch of the Trinity River so infested by poisonous snakes and mosquitos, and yes, even alligators, rumors swirl of the existence of a camp run by one of the cartels. Surrounded by dozens of sloughs, a remote camp of windowless cabins that lock only from the outside is said to be the holding place of their human cargo. Some pictures purporting to be of this camp have surfaced, which I have included below. I have no way of knowing whether this is where human trafficking happens or not, and as I value my life I don’t intend to go out wading through the Trinity River swamps looking to get killed. However, I can and will do my part at home to expose corrupt local officials and fight for justice for those who have been murdered or had their property stolen and lives ruined.
…that is just a deer hunter camp? Sure do have a lot of these cabins there