Multiple White Supremacist Gang Members among 54 Defendants Charged in RICO Indictment
Charges Include Solicitation of Murder, Kidnapping, Maiming, and Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
Dozens of members of a white supremacist gang allegedly responsible for multiple acts of violence were charged in a superseding indictment unsealed today in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The indictment alleges that the New Aryan Empire (NAE) is a racketeering enterprise, which committed violent acts—attempted murder, kidnapping, and maiming—in support of its organization and its wide-ranging drug-trafficking operation.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock, Arkansas Field Office, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Justin King of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Little Rock District Office and Acting Resident Agent in Charge Warren Newman of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF) Little Rock District Office, made the announcement.
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “I want to thank our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for vigorously investigating this vicious criminal organization.”
The case, named “To The Dirt,” which is in reference to the NAE slogan referring to the rule that members must remain in the NAE until they die, began in 2016 when ATF assisted the Pope County Sheriff’s Office in a murder investigation. The murder involved members of the NAE, a white supremacist organization that began as a prison gang and has since expanded beyond the prisons. Investigators learned that several members of the NAE conducted meetings in Pope County and became involved in methamphetamine distribution.
On Oct. 3, 2017, the grand jury handed down an indictment charging 44 people from the Pope County area with numerous gun and drug violations. Since that indictment, one defendant—Daniel Adame, 32, of Russellville, Arkansas —has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The superseding indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on Feb. 5, 2019, named 11 additional defendants and added charges for the defendants’ involvement in acts involving attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Thirty-five defendants are in either state or federal custody, while 16 were previously released on federal bond. Troy R. Loadholt, 37; Jeffrey G. Howell, 34; and Amos Adame, 46, all from Russellville, remain fugitives. April Howell, 29, and Amanda Rapp, 37, both of Russellville, and Courtney Talley, 32, of Dardanelle, Arkansas, were arrested Tuesday morning. Most of the defendants are residents of Pope and Yell Counties, Arkansas.
“The violence and hatred alleged in this superseding indictment have no place in society,” said U.S. Attorney Hiland. “We are committed to helping our communities remain free from these types of crimes using every resource available, including the powerful RICO statutes when appropriate. The significant charges in this case represent the hard work of our state and federal law enforcement agencies, and this office’s commitment to removing violent, repeat offenders from the streets.”
The superseding indictment alleges that between May 2014 and May 2016, NAE associates Marcus Millsap, 51, of Danville, Arkansas, and James Oliver, 47, of Russellville, as well as NAE President Wesley Gullett, 29, of Russellville, solicited several NAE members and associates to murder the confidential informant responsible for Millsap being charged with drug trafficking. According to the indictment, NAE members believed this informant had provided information about Millsap to law enforcement. In January 2016, two known members of NAE attempted to murder the confidential informant, but were unsuccessful. The superseding indictment further alleges that between May 28, 2017 and June 6, 2017, members and associates of NAE kidnapped, stabbed and maimed two individuals in retaliation for the individuals providing information to law enforcement about another NAE member. During the kidnapping, the victims were forced to write apology letters to the NAE member and his girlfriend.
The indictment charges 17 of the 54 defendants with crimes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering statute (VICAR). These racketeering-based statutes provide criminal penalties up to life imprisonment for acts performed as part of a criminal organization, and support charges for those who only ordered or assisted others to carry out the illegal acts. The superseding indictment alleges that from 2014 to the present, the New Aryan Empire functioned as a criminal enterprise to achieve its objectives, including illegal activities that affect interstate commerce.
The charges in the superseding indictment include conspiracy to violate RICO, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, maiming in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, as well as multiple methamphetamine and firearm violations (see attachment for complete list of charges and penalties).
“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,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Upchurch. “We appreciate and applaud the steadfast efforts of our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the ATF, DEA, Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force, Russellville Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Conway Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and FBI in arresting these individuals who are determined to destroy our communities.”
In addition to the violent acts, law enforcement officials investigated the NAE’s methamphetamine trafficking organization. During the coordinated federal and state investigation, law enforcement agents made 59 controlled purchases of methamphetamine, seizing more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as 69 firearms and more than $70,000 in drug proceeds.
“Historically, Aryan gang members and associates are a source of drugs, violence, and crime throughout this region,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge King. “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.”
Wesley S. Gullett, 29, and Kevin M. Long, 23, both of Russellville, Arkansas; Lesa A. Standridge, 54, of Dover, Arkansas; and Christopher S. Helms, 35, of Dardanelle, Arkansas are charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Among the 69 guns seized, include handguns, rifles, shotguns, and several high-capacity assault-style rifles.
“These indictments are the result of an unprecedented collaboration by the ATF, FBI, and DEA Little Rock Field Offices, Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Russellville Police Department and 5th Judicial Drug Task Force,” said ATF Acting Resident Agent in Charge Newman. “This case reflects a major disruption of the New Aryan Empire organization that affected the whole Arkansas River Valley area. As a result of this collaborative effort, we have effectively dismantled this violent, drug-dealing organization and sent a clear message that the ATF and our law enforcement partners have an unwavering commitment to hold those individuals accountable who insist on creating an atmosphere of violence and fear in our communities.”
The three arrested today will be arraigned at 3 p.m. CST in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Deere.
The investigation was conducted by FBI, ATF, and DEA, in partnership with the Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force, Russellville Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Conway Police Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Liza Jane Brown of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
An indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.