|Frank E Roch Jr|
When police found a heavily-tattooed, dying man slumped in a pickup truck crashed along U.S. 59 in mid-May, he had so many different identification cards they reportedly didn't know his name.
It would be many hours before police would realize he was the top general of one of the state's most notorious underworld organizations.
Questions still surround the death of Frank E. Roch Jr., the alleged leader of the of largest faction of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a powerful white-supremacist prison gang.
"It was widely understood, at least in law enforcement circles, he was the general of generals," said John Bales, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
Roch, a 54-year-old Baytown resident who went by "Pancho," commanded an estimated 1,500 members in and outside of prisons, and had influence over many more associates and supporters, officials said. Exact numbers are unknown.
A funeral was held May 25 and his remains were cremated. But it is still not clear why he died the night of May 19, officials said.
"It is an open case," Houston Police spokesman Kese Smith said. "Witnesses reported seeing the vehicle swerve and strike a concrete barrier."
Harris County medical examiners have not yet determined the cause of his death.
Roch's criminal history went back decades. He was last in prison in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Road map of his life
A different look
A photo on a funeral home's memorial web site shows a far-different looking Roch than the man with the shaved head in a prison mug shot.
His thick, blondish-gray hair and handle bar moustache are grown out.
His shirt covers the maze of elaborate tattoos inked over his entire torso and arms.
The tattoos form a road map of his life and offer possible clues to his death.
Across his chest was the world "loyalty,“ according to a photo taken while he was in custody.
In the middle of his torso was a tattoo of the gang's shield, including a swastika, and a star denoting his rank of general and chairman.
On his arm, where members are known to have tattoos of vices, is what looks like a hypodermic needle.
"Everybody knows who this guy was," said a state law enforcement officer who requested his name not be published. "His loss has created a major disturbance in this gang."
The officer could tick off a list of Roch's crimes, but respected his tenaciousness as an adversary. He was one of the few prison-gang members that wouldn't give up anything during interrogations.
"He could play mind games," the officer recalled. "I would say he was a high IQ guy, very high IQ."
Federal indictments unleashed in recent years against members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas describe the gang as promoting white supremacy and being involved in murders, assaults, robberies and extortion.
"Members are required to sign a blind faith commitment in which they agree to do anything directed or requested by their superiors without question," notes an indictment. "Failure to comply may result in severe beatings, known as beat-downs or deaths."
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has members in and outside the state. It is divided into two factions, law-enforcement officials said. Roch was the chairman of the larger organization, and led with the assistance of four lower-ranking generals.