21 Alleged White Supremacists Indicted In Utah On Federal Drug And Firearms Charges
Twenty-one Utah-based white supremacists have been indicted on drug and firearms charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The move comes just days after alleged white supremacist gang members in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi were brought up on similar charges.
In the latest case, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Utah said in a statement that the charges were unsealed in federal court following an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force of the Soldiers of Aryan Culture, Silent Aryan Warriors, Noble Elect Thugs, and associates.
The defendants were described as "documented gang members and associates of several home-grown white supremacist gangs" from around the Salt Lake City and Ogden areas.
The Justice Department said 11 arrests were made on Wednesday and that 10 other defendants were already in custody. The indictments stem from an investigation that began in June 2019 that involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and two gang units, the statement said.
"The investigation led law enforcement officers to numerous documented gang members and associates trafficking in methamphetamine and firearms," the statement said. "Many of the defendants have been involved in criminal conduct in Utah communities for many years."
It said that about 1.65 pounds of methamphetamine were purchased and 15 firearms recovered during the investigation.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced the indictment of two dozen people, including members of an alleged white supremacist prison gang, in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi, on charges related to violent acts, including murder.
Five indictments in three different states involved 24 defendants, "including alleged Aryan Circle (AC) gang members and associates, on charges of racketeering conspiracy, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, drug conspiracy, and unlawful firearms trafficking," the DOJ said.
"According to court documents, the AC is a violent, race‑based organization that operates inside federal prisons across the country and outside prisons in states including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri," the statement said.
"Court records further indicate that the AC enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, assault, and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the organization," it added.
Separately, on Thursday, a man pleaded guilty in a plot to firebomb a Jewish synagogue in Pueblo, Colo.
The FBI said Richard Holzer, who made the pleas in federal court, is a known white supremacist who wanted to drive the Jewish people out of Pueblo.
The FBI has long been concerned about the rise of right-wing extremist groups and white supremacy. In testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee last month, Director Christopher Wray warned about violent extremist groups, telling lawmakers that "racially motivated violent extremism" — mostly white supremacists — has made up the majority of domestic terrorism threats.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have also expressed concern about domestic extremism in the lead up to the Nov. 3 election, according to Reuters.
Last month, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, warned of a "witch's brew that really hasn't happened in America's history."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.