UPDATE 12:16 p.m. ET: CoreCivic has placed Travis Frey on administrative leave pending an investigation.
A senior employee at a for-profit immigrant detention center in Nevada was active on the neo-Nazi site Iron March and aspired to establish a white nationalist chapter in his area.
Travis Frey, 31, is currently employed as a captain at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, which is run by private prison behemoth CoreCivic and contracted with ICE.
Frey joined Iron March in 2013, and posted at least a dozen times between 2016 and 2017 while he was working as head of security at a CoreCivic jail in Indianapolis, which was also authorized to house detainees on behalf of ICE.
The archives of the now-defunct website were leaked online in November, offering a glimpse into the early organizational efforts driving the modern, international white nationalist movement. The foundations of violent neo-Nazi groups such as Atomwaffen were established in Iron March chats, and white nationalist leaders like Matthew Heimbach have said they were radicalized by the time they spent on the site.
On Iron March, Frey used the screen name “In Hoc Signo Vinces,” a Latin phrase that’s used by military outfits around the world, and by universities, and was the title of the American Nazi Party’s manifesto. VICE News was able to identify Frey, who served in the Marines between 2006 and 2008, through some of the personal information he provided on Iron March, including his personal email address, phone number, birthday, and place of residence at the time he was writing on Iron March (which was Carmel, Indiana).
In one post from November 2016, Frey wrote that “any ‘man’ who gets that upset about ‘virulent racism’ couldn’t knock out a tooth even if I tied my hands behind my back.”
“Deep down no one really gives a shit about racism,” Frey wrote. “This is just empty signaling from this faggot.” (It’s unclear what or who he’s referring to.)
In another post that month, he wrote that he’s long believed that the “heads of world governments and the entertainment industry are under Satanic influences.”
“Dark, dark shit goes on in the corridors of power and these rats need to be purged from their nests,” Frey wrote.
Frey’s participation on Iron March and self-identification as a “fascist” in his profile raises questions about his tenure while holding a position of authority over the lives of vulnerable populations, including migrants, who are often people of color.
An ICE spokesperson said: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds those working within our facilities to the highest standards of professional conduct. The incident in question does not involve a federal employee.” CoreCivic didn't respond to a request for comment by time of publication.
Allegations of racism have long plagued correctional institutions across the country, from guards appearing in mock Klan attire in at least six states in the late 1990s, to employees associating with extremist groups online. Just last week, West Virginia’s governor announced that he’d fired over 30 corrections officer trainees for performing a Nazi salute in a group photograph.
The Nevada Southern Detention Center, where Frey has worked since at least 2018, according to a now-deleted LinkedIn page, is located in Pahrump, 62 miles west of Las Vegas, and is contracted with ICE and U.S. Marshals. The facility has an average daily population of 189, and according to a Marshall Project investigation from last year, violent federal inmates are housed among ICE immigrant detainees. CoreCivic is one of the biggest private corrections companies in the country.
In June 2017, Frey started putting out feelers about joining the ranks of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), which was run by Heimbach before its demise and was a key player in the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. “I am interested in helping build the Indiana TWP,” Frey wrote. “Let me know what is needed.”
A user with the screen name Cr4ck3r replied, asking Frey where he lives and how old he is. “I’m trying to find all the NS [National Socialist] guys in Indiana to get together for a meet and greet,” he replied. When Frey replied saying he was 29, Cr4ck3r asked whether he’s already a member of TWP, and whether he wanted to meet up for a beer.
“I am not a member” Frey replied. “I did reach [out] to them to inquire about membership, but I haven’t heard anything back yet. I messaged the TWP FB page and haven’t heard anything back. I also emailed them.”
It’s not clear from that interaction how involved Frey got into the white nationalist movement or whether he still harbors those views. We were able to briefly reach him by phone at the Nevada Southern Detention Center, but he hung up the call. He also disabled the LinkedIn pages used to identify him after VICE News emailed him asking for comment last week.
Cover: A Google Maps satellite image of Nevada Southern Detention Center.