BOISE — A federal grand jury has indicted ten members of an Idaho prison gang called the Aryan Knights on RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) charges, according to U.S. Attorney Bart Davis. The indictment results from an FBI investigation of the Aryan Knights at the request of the Idaho Department of Correction.
As alleged in the indictment, the Aryan Knights -- or “AK” -- was formed in the mid-1990s in the Idaho prison system. It is a prison gang that operates within and outside IDOC prison facilities. “It was founded to organize criminal activity for a select group of white inmates within IDOC custody. The AK has white supremacist and white separatist ideologies. Since its founding, the AK has expanded -- and is now believed to have over 100 members, both inside and outside of IDOC custody,” according to a news release from Davis’ office. “The AK has used violence and the threat of violence to target non‑white inmates and other targeted inmates. The AK also has used drug trafficking, extortion, and gambling to generate revenue, which was shared among members.”
Investigators say the group arranged to smuggle large quantities of illegal drugs into prison over the years, generating revenue and laundering the proceeds through an outside business. “The AK increased and maintained its reputation for violence within IDOC through repeated acts of violence,” the release said.
The Indictment has three counts. In Count One, nine of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. They are:
· James Ramsey, age 38
· Christopher Foss, age 30
· Harlan Hale, age 53
· Steven Bowman, age 36
· Jeremy Brown, age 40
· Nicholas Sites, age 34
· Buck Pickens, age 30
· Lucas Johnson, age 30
· Michael McNabb, age 34
In Count Two, Ramsey and Hale also were charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering for the June 2016 stabbing of an AK member who had come into conflict with Ramsey, the AK’s overall leader at the time, the release stated.
In Count Three, Bowman and Mark Woodland, age 48, were charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering for the February, 2017 beating and stabbing of an inmate associated with a rival prison gang.
All defendants, except for Johnson, are currently in IDOC custody. Johnson, a former IDOC inmate, was arrested yesterday.
If found guilty, those charged could face anywhere from ten years to life in prison.
“The defendants in this case didn’t let prison walls deter their acts of brazen violence and crime,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Haertel of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office.
“When people in our custody choose to further their criminal activities while incarcerated, it poses a significant danger to our correctional professionals, the vast majority of people in our custody working hard to turn their lives around, and even reaches into our communities,” said IDOC director Josh Tewalt.
Governor Little’s statement on indictment of prison gang “Aryan Knights”
Governor Brad Little issued a statement following announcement of the indictments. “The indictment of this prison gang is a welcome step for Idaho citizens as well as our correctional officers and prisoners. The indictment signals the weakening of a criminal enterprise that spreads hatred and crime throughout our communities and threatens the safety of our citizens. In addition, prisoners paying their debt to society who want to turn their lives around should have the opportunity to do so without violence and drugs surrounding them. I commend the collaboration between the Idaho Department of Correction and local and federal law enforcement partners to bring forward this indictment of members of an organized crime organization,” Little said.
The investigation was prompted by information uncovered by the IDOC’s Special Investigations Unit. Because of the depth and scale of the conspiracy, the department requested the assistance of the U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Idaho and the FBI.
In addition to the FBI, IDOC’s Special Investigations Unit, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office participated in the investigation.