The group of men accused of organizing a white-supremacist gang in the Nevada state prison system were arraigned in federal court Friday morning.
Seven of the fourteen men appeared in front of a judge and entered not guilty pleas to a number of charges including fraud, extortion, drugs, and murder. Prosecutors say the gang offers protection only to white male inmates who join in on their crimes.
The men are scheduled to be back in court in mid-September.
Fourteen members of the "Aryan Warriors," a white supremacist gang, have been indicted in Las Vegas in a case that has exposed a major crime ring inside Nevada's prison system. Investigators say this network of inmates use violence, intimidation and racial hatred to achieve their goals.
The group of white supremacists call themselves the "Aryan Warriors" and they now face federal charges of conspiring to commit everything from drug trafficking to murder.
The alleged gang leader is Ronald Sellers; prosecutors say he was involved in a fatal knife attack on another inmate. The indictment also alleges that gang members would extort money from the relatives of other inmates whose safety the gang members had the power to threaten.
All of this was done, according to prosecutors, to finance and spread a message of hatred and racial supremacy. And certain prison employees may have become involved in the corruption.
"There were allegations in the indictment that prison employees brought drugs into the institution," said Howard Skolnik, who runs the Nevada prison system.
Prosecutors also say the prison gang was involved in plenty of crime outside the prison walls such as distributing illegal drugs like methamphetamine, in neighborhoods all around the state.
Even though the indictment mentions corrupt activities by prison workers, no employees of the prison system have been arrested. We're told this investigation has lasted for four years but it is still far from over.
Federal authorities in Las Vegas say they've busted up a racist white supremacist gang based in the Nevada state prison system.
Fourteen men are named in a federal racketeering indictment unsealed today charging them with murder, extortion, drug dealing, fraud, identity theft and other violent crimes.
The U.S. attorney's office and FBI say the men were members of the Aryan Warriors -- based in the prison system, but with tentacles in methamphetamine distribution in cities around the region.
The charges include allegations stemming from the stabbing death of a prison inmate in August 2001; assaults on two other inmates in 2004 and 2005; and the February beating of a person on the outside.
They're also accused of threatening and extorting money from inmate families, and stealing and using identification documents and credit cards.
Four of the accused were arrested this morning in Las Vegas. One was arrested in Pahrump. The others are already in federal or state prisons. They're all due tomorrow morning before a magistrate in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)