Armed Utah Drug Trafficker Sentenced To 180 Months In Federal Prison
SALT LAKE CITY – A Vernal, Utah, man will spend 180 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
U.S. District Judge Jill N. Parrish sentenced Steven Dean Hardinger, age 35, Thursday afternoon in federal court. Hardinger has been documented as a leader of the Soldiers of Aryan Culture, a white supremacist gang in Utah.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper arrested Hardinger following a traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Juab County. Hardinger was speeding and did not have a valid driver’s license. He also provided a rental car agreement for a car that did not include his name as an authorized driver and had expired three days earlier.
Based on these circumstances, the car was impounded. Four handguns were found in the vehicle, including a loaded one under the driver’s seat. Additionally, the trooper found a hollowed-out book containing 297 grams of methamphetamine in the car. As a part of a plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Hardinger admitted he intended to distribute the methamphetamine to another person.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Hardinger with the drug and firearms violations in May 2017.
Troopers and agents with the Utah Department of Public Safety investigated case. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah.