Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico's prisons are seeing a rise in white supremacist gang memberships as some white inmates seek protection from largely Latino gangs, state officials say.
Membership in white supremacist gangs has nearly doubled in state prisons over the last 10 years, officials say, and they worry the numbers may continue to rise.
Dwayne Santistevan, administrator of the state's Security Threat Intelligence Unit, says white supremacist gangs are involved in a number of criminal activities and often battle with Latino gangs.
Santistevan says white supremacist gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood and the Nazi Low Riders are affiliated with gangs in other states.
Latinos are not immune to the impulse to join the supremacist groups active in New Mexico's prisons, however. At least two Hispanic inmates are members of white supremacist gangs.
White supremacists, who once primarily targeted African Americans and Jews, have taken aim at the burgeoning Latino population in recent years.
The issue caught national attention last week, when neo-Nazi J.T. Ready killed four people and then himself in the Arizona town of Gilbert.
A staunch opponent of illegal immigration, Ready helped found the U.S. Border Patrol, a fringe militia that scoured the border for undocumented immigrants and drug runners.
Hispanics are now the country's largest ethnic minority, making up 16 percent of the total population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.