Dozens with ties to Arkansas group indicted in 'racketeering enterprise'

PHOTO: The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hangs on a wall at the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2018.PlayAl Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
WATCH News headlines today: Feb. 13, 2019

Members of the New Aryan Empire were charged in connection with their involvement in what the Department of Justice alleges is a "racketeering enterprise" that involved violent acts that ranged from attempted murder to kidnapping and witness intimidation.

On Tuesday, prosecutors from the Eastern District of Arkansas asserted that 54 men had ties with the New Aryan Empire, which according to the DOJ is a white supremacist group that started in the 1990's and is a major organization in methamphetamine trafficking within the Arkansas River Valley.

“According to the allegations in the indictment announced today, New Aryan Empire associates maintained their criminal enterprise by engaging in multiple acts of violence -- including kidnapping and attempting to murder one informant, and stabbing and maiming two others suspected of cooperating with law enforcement,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a news release. “I want to thank our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for vigorously investigating this vicious criminal organization.”

The investigation, named “In the Dirt” in reference to an NAE slogan that all members must remain in the organization until they die, began in 2016 as a result of a murder investigation in Pope County, Arkansas.

“Today’s superseding indictment of over 50 people reflects the FBI’s firm resolve to root out criminal organizations who espouse hate and bigotry, and whose members sell drugs and commit violent acts such as attempted murder, kidnapping, and aggravated assault,” Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock said.

In one instance, the DOJ asserts that the president of NAE was soliciting members of the organization to murder a confidential informant in prison. In addition to the violent crimes, law enforcement officers seized 69 firearms, 25 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $70,000 in drug money.

“Historically, Aryan gang members and associates are a source of drugs, violence, and crime throughout this region,” Special Agent in Charge Justin King of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Little Rock District Office said in a statement.

"Several members and associates of these gangs are charged in a RICO conspiracy as a result of law enforcement collaboration and a determined goal of making our communities safer from gang violence and drug trafficking. This effort, as part of Operation To The Dirt, is a promise to our citizens of the continued commitment of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels to keep our streets safe.”