BOISE — Ten members of the Aryan Knights, an Idaho-based white supremacist prison gang formed in the 1990s, have been indicted on racketeering charges, and four of them also were charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering, United State attorney Bart Davis announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Nine of the 10 people were already in the Idaho Department of Correction’s custody.
The investigation took place over three years, FBI Resident Agent Doug Hart said at the press conference. The conspiracy to commit racketeering is believed to have started around January 2000.
The Aryan Knights have approximately 165 members in IDOC custody and 100 who have been released from custody, officials said. Individuals hoping to join the gang must commit two acts of violence prior to being initiated, according to Davis.
“The Aryan Knights was founded to organize criminal activity among white inmates,” Davis said. “The AKs have white supremacist and white separatist ideologies.”
In the indictment, racketeering refers to the smuggling of illegal drugs, and generating revenue and laundering the proceeds. The group also “increased its reputation for violence within IDOC through repeated acts of violence,” according to a statement provided at the press conference.
The nine men charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise are:
- James Ramsey, 38
- Christopher Foss, 30
- Harlan Hale, 53
- Steven Bowman, 36
- Jeremy Brown, 40
- Nicholas Sites, 34
- Buck Pickens, 30
- Lucas Johnson, 30
- Michael McNabb, 34
Ramsey and Hale were also charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, stemming from a 2016 incident in which an Aryan Knights member was stabbed after coming into conflict with Ramsey, who was the leader of the gang at the time.
Mark Woodland, 48, and Bowman were charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering for an incident in which a member of a rival gang was stabbed.
Attempted murder in aid of racketeering carries up to a 10-year sentence, while assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering carries up to 20 years, according to the indictment.
Ramsey, Foss, Hale, Bowman, Sites, Pickens and Johnson face life in prison on their racketeering charges. Brown and McNabb face 20 years.
“This case exemplifies and reinforces the FBI’s commitment to combat gangs and organized crime regardless of where that activity is found,” Hart said.
Gov. Brad Little released a statement on 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. ... 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.”