John Marzloff was almost decapitated in a recreation yard bathroom at USP Atlanta, a high-security federal prison in Georgia on May 20, 1979. The convict’s head was partially severed from his neck, and 16 stab wounds dotted his head, back, shoulder, and upper arm area. Marzloff was killed because he’d had the nerve to cheat an Aryan Brotherhood (AB) shot caller out of some money in a drug transaction at another Bureau of Prisons penitentiary. Marzloff was put “in the hat,” meaning the gang put a contract on his life. Another prisoner, Danny Holliday, told prosecutors that Barry “The Baron” Mills carried out the murder. The message sent was clear – Fuck the AB over at your own peril.
“Barry Mills is extremely intelligent and very charismatic,” John Lee Brook, the author of Blood In Blood Out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood, tells me. “Two books – Dale Carnegie’s How To Make Friends and Influence People and Machiavelli’s The Prince – had a great impact on his perspective of life.”
Born in 1948, Mills grew up in Sonoma County, in the town of Windsor, nine miles outside of Santa Rosa, California. He got in trouble with the law at an early age, boosting cars as a teenager, before graduating to bank robberies. Diving full-force into the criminal underworld as a youngster and never looking back.
“Barry was a leader and not a follower,” says ex-con and author of Prison Adventures: Memoirs of my Checkered Past Richard ‘Bumperjack’ Hartley. “A vicious and violent white criminal who rose to the top by putting in serious work – the only way to gain the rank and respect of his peers and enemies. He joined the Aryan Brotherhood to belong and was one the guys in the 1970's that the other AB's looked up too. He would be the first to go on any mission if it were for the cause.”
Serving multiple life sentences, Mills became a leader when the first wave of AB members started causing havoc in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in the early 1970s. Heavily muscled with a thick moustache, the career prison gangster’s been incarcerated for the better part of his life. Fostering an ingrained hatred for the system following a 1969 armed robbery conviction and a subsequent eye injury suffered at San Quentin in a knife fight with Mexican prisoners. “He joined the AB because he was fascinated by their warrior philosophy and their sense of brotherhood,” says Brook. “The AB projected an ambience of power in prison. In addition, the AB provided protection from other prison gangs.”
While in San Quentin, Mills helped the AB plan a bank robbery in Fresno. Although he didn’t participate in the robbery, when the bank robbers were caught, one of them made a deal and told of Mills’ role in the planning. Mills got 20 years in the feds. They transported him to USP Atlanta, where he met Tyler ‘Hulk’ Bingham, another member of the AB. Mills and Bingham recruited, organised and expanded the AB throughout the feds and state prison. They established a hierarchal organisation that took orders from a three-man Federal Commission that directed an expansive system of murder, drugs and racketeering inside prisons and outside prisons.
“He was a very violent kid,” says Hartley. “He became a leader in the federal prison system and opened up recruiting to grow the gang. Barry has always been highly respected by the gang.” The AB established ties with jailed Mafia crime bosses like Oreste ‘Ernie Boy’ Abbamonte, ‘Little Nicky’ Scarfo and John Gotti. Associates from other gangs like the Dirty White Boys, Nazi Low Riders and PEN1 lined up to do the AB’s dirty work, flooding every prison they were housed at with heroin and shipping the proceeds back to California to be disbursed between other jailed members and leaders of the gang.
“When the Teflon Don was in prison he made a deal with Mills,” says Brooks. “Gotti would hook Mills up with a hotshot attorney to appeal his murder case if Mills would provide protection for Gotti in prison. Gotti reneged on the deal, so Mills put out the word that the AB was no longer protecting Gotti. Subsequently, Gotti was attacked in the prison yard by another inmate. Gotti crawled back to the AB, begging for protection. After that Gotti had to pay over large sums of money to the AB for protection.”
In 2002, the feds indicted Mills along with the whole leadership of the gang and tried to give them the death penalty. Prosecutors said Mills was responsible for 14 murders, dating back two decades, and that he was responsible for inciting a prison race war with the DC Blacks, another prison gang consisting of African-American prisoners from Washington DC, in 1997 at USP Lewisburg. The jury convicted Mills and his codefendants on multiple RICO counts of assault, murder, drug dealing, and extortion, but the jury refused to give Mills and his fellow AB members the death penalty. He’s currently serving a prison sentence of four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility Prison in Colorado, the highest security prison in the United States, where he’s locked down in a cell 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Photos: Seth Ferranti