The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday announced the culmination of a long-term investigation, dubbed “Operation Blackjack,” into arms and narcotics trafficking activities, centered in Pasco County, Florida. United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced the arrests of 39 white supremacist gang members who authorities said were connected to a drug and weapons trafficking ring.
The three-year investigation into the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs culminated with the seizure of more than 110 illegal firearms, a rocket launcher and pipe bombs.
Authorities also seized “several pounds” of mostly meth and fentanyl.
“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.
“It’s scary when you look over that table and you see those guns and they are in the hands of felons,” said Nocco.
“I want to send a message to these defendants that you can’t keep coming in and out of prison and come back and affect the community with violence and drug trafficking,” said Maria Chapa Lopez, U.S State Attorney for Middle District of Florida.
These suspects are now facing anywhere from two years to life in prison.
Richard Mormon, 31, was found in possession of at least two fully operational pipe bombs.
Authorities say they are not aware of any plans Mormon had with them.
The Aryan Brotherhood is the oldest white supremacist prison gang in the U.S. and is also a national crime syndicate, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Columbus police last week announced the arrest of 9 Aryan Brotherhood gang members on a variety of crimes from auto thefts, burglaries and an ongoing plot to sneak drugs into the Bartholomew County jail, reports FOX59.
In October 2017 police arrested two people, Debin Gabbard and Jeremy Streeval, for drug and theft-related crimes.
That case and an assault of an inmate at the Bartholomew County jail sparked the year-long investigation into the Aryan Brotherhood that included coordinated drug smuggling plans.