Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Several members of a white supremacist gang have been indicted on multiple gun and drug crimes in Arkansas, the Department of Justice said this week.
Following a two-year federal and state investigation titled "To the Dirt," which is a reference to a rule in the white supremacist New Aryan Empire gang that members stay in until they die, law enforcement officials in Arkansas arrested 44 people, including eight members of the NAE gang and one member of the White Aryan Resistance.
Law enforcement officials also seized more than 25 pounds in methamphetamine and 69 firearms, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, and several high-capacity assault-style rifles.
The DOJ said the majority of the defendants are convicted felons and many have violent records. "Targeting violent, armed drug dealers will be a priority for my office, as well as for all law enforcement agencies in central Arkansas," said Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, according to a DOJ press release.
In total, the DOJ has charged 70 people and arrested 47. The remaining 23 defendants are still at large.
Each defendant has been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Several are also charged with distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a gun.
"Our neighborhoods deserve to exist without fear and intimidation inflicted by all violent drug gangs, including the New Aryan Empire," said Stephen G. Azzam, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's New Orleans Field Division. "Today's arrests should significantly impact the violent drug related activity that has wreaked havoc throughout the Eastern District of Arkansas."