A federal raid on white supremacist gangs in Florida has led to the arrest of 40 people and the seizure of more than 100 illegal weapons, including a rocket launcher.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced the raid this week, which targeted the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood gangs for gun and drug violations. Titled “Operation Blackjack,” the operation focused on Pasco County where the gangs operated and was a joint operation with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Those involved in the raid praised the joint work that led to the arrests. Those charged in the raid face anywhere from a few years to life in prison if convicted.
“In getting these 39 dangerous individuals off of the street and seizing guns and explosives that could have been used in violent acts, the community of Pasco County is a little safer,” ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai said, WFTS reported.
Chapa Lopez, the U.S. Attorney who worked on the operation, said they will continue to “use every tool at our disposal to prosecute those who persist in purveying violent crime and drug trafficking on our streets.”
Authorities said the white supremacist gangs operated both in and outside of prisons.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 17, 2018
The arrests come just a few days after another bust of the white supremacist gang in Indiana. As Fox 59 noted, the Aryan Brotherhood became a target for an investigation in Columbus, Indiana, that led to nine arrests on a series of drug and theft-related charges.
Those arrests, along with the assault of an inmate at the Bartholomew County Jail, kicked off what ended up being a year-long investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood. Police said much of the case centered around smuggling drugs into prisons.
“The Aryan Brotherhood is a known prison, so it wasn’t surprising they were trying to sneak drugs into the jail,” Columbus police Lt. Matthew Harris told Fox 59.
Court records claimed that the gang coordinated from inside the prison with members outside to smuggle drugs and commit thefts.
“Sometimes two to three car thefts a day were being reported to us,” said Harris.
The bust of the white supremacist gangs in Florida comes amid an uptick in violence from far-right and white nationalists individuals and groups. As the New York Times noted, federal counterterrorism efforts have come under fire for failing to focus on these groups, despite the rise in activity.