White supremacist group busted in RICO operation
RUSSELLVILLE — Dozens of members of an Arkansas white supremacist group have been indicted in connection with a series of violent crimes.
Charges were brought against 54 people with ties to the New Aryan Empire, according to investigators. The indictment claims the group is a “corrupt organization which committed acts of violence, including solicitation of murder and attempted murder, kidnapping, and maiming.”
The group is also accused of drug trafficking.
Associates of the group, which identifies itself in part through Nazi swastikas and “Heil Hitler” salutes, tried to kill an informant and stabbed and maimed two other people suspected of cooperating with law enforcement, authorities said.
Cody Hiland, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said he plans to prosecute the case under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, otherwise known as the RICO Act. It allows the leaders of an organization to be prosecuted for crimes they ordered other people to commit. It was enacted in 1970 to pursue the Mafia and other organized crime groups.
“This announcement is a little unique as it is the first RICO by card case brought in 15 years RICO focuses specifically on racketeering and allows members of an organization to be held responsible for the acts of the other members among other benefits,” Hiland said. “In short with RICO if you are a member of the organization you’re in for a penny and you.”
Federal investigators say the group was created in 1990 by inmates inside of the Arkansas Department of Corrections Investigators believe the members used the organization to protect themselves from other inmates and to “Preserve the Caucasian race.”
In detailing the group’s origin, investigators said the NAE eventually expanded outside of prison walls and into surrounding communities. The group is now believed to be made up of 5,000 members.
Dylan Ison, who lives outside of Russellville said he recognizes the name of one of the members who was arrested. David Rybicki, the U.S.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General, called the group “a violent and highly-structured criminal organization” that has roots as a prison gang.
Law enforcement officials seized 69 firearms, more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $70,000 in drug proceeds as part of the investigation.
The investigation mentions several instances of violent intimidation from group members as a way to keep a person from testifying against them or speaking to law enforcement.
Some of those tactics, according to an arrest affidavit include a $50,000 murder for hire, stabbings, kidnapping, beatings and one instance where a person was maimed with a heated knife to his head causing permanent disfigurement.
Convicted cop killer dies in prison
TEXARKANA— An inmate who was serving a life sentence for killing a police officer in 1977 has died in prison, corrections officials said.
The Arkansas Department of Correction says 57-year-old John Lohbauer died Saturday.
Spokeswoman Janie Runkle told the Texarkana Gazette that Lohbauer appeared to have died of natural causes but that a medical examiner will make the final determination.
Lohbauer was 15 when he fatally shot Texarkana Police Officer Ed Worrell during a burglary. He received a life sentence plus 40 years.
Last year, the Arkansas Supreme Court said it wouldn’t order a resentencing for Lohbauer, who had argued he was entitled to a new sentence under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that barred mandatory life sentences for juveniles.
Arkansas justices noted that Lohbauer’s sentence carried with it the possibility of parole.
Then-Gov. Mike Huckabee rejected a Lohbauer clemency request in 2005 on the state parole board’s recommendation.
According to court records, Lohbauer shot two police officers with a high-powered rifle while serving as a lookout for two others during a break-in at a Howard Discount Center along the city street that divides Texas and Arkansas.
Worrell died and Officer James Clark was wounded.
Lohbauer’s accomplices were paroled in 1986.