54 Arkansas white supremacists indicted for violence, drug trafficking, conspiracy

A neo-Nazi
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Arkansas announced the indictment of 54 members of the New Aryan Empire, a white supremacist gang, charging them with attempted murder, kidnapping, violent assault, meth trafficking, and witness intimidation, among other crimes. U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said he will prosecute the suspects under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which targets criminal organizations and allows for prosecuting leaders who order the commission of crimes as well as those who commit them. "The violence and hatred alleged in this superseding indictment have no place in society," he said.

As part of the operation against the New Aryan Empire, launched in 2016 after a murder involving gang members, authorities seized 25 pounds of meth, more than $70,000 in drug money, and 69 guns. In October 2017, prosecutors indicted 44 gang members on drug and gun crimes, and more charges are possible, Hilland said. Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Rybicki said in order to keep the meth trafficking quiet, gang members turned to violence, including permanently disfiguring one informant with a hot knife to the face. The gang, which started in an Arkansas jail in 1990, now has about 5,000 members, he added, and it "has moved from our prisons to our neighborhoods."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.