TULSA, Okla. (KTUL)—The U.S. Attorney announced formal charges Thursday against 18 men and woman accused of committing crimes as part of a prison based white supremacist gang.
They call themselves the "Universal Aryan Brotherhood" or UAB.
The U.S. Attorney, Trent Shores, said all 18 people indicted are now in custody or were already in custody and are being transferred to Oklahoma.
Some were leaders of this group. Others indicted were already serving life sentences for previous crimes committed.
“The Universal Aryan Brotherhood runs with brutality and intimidation,” said Shores. “The tools of their trade are hate, fear, violence and intimidation.”
Shores called the UAB a dangerous and fearsome group.
“The UAB members and associates, as part of this organization, committed murders, kidnappings, they used firearms to further their illegal activities, they dealt drugs and in the process destroyed families, destroyed communities and they will be held accountable,” said Shores.
Federal, state and local law enforcement have now pressed charges against 18 members of the whites only gang, operating outside and from within our state’s prison walls using contraband cellphones.
Contraband phones are a big problem in state prisons. Agencies said they are working to combat this. In 2017, Shores said Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials seized almost 7,000 phones from inmates. In 2016, they seized nearly 10,000.
“Prison should be for punishment, should be for rehabilitation,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a headquarters to continue running your criminal operation.”
Members have been charged for their alleged roles in murder, kidnapping, trafficking of methamphetamine and firearms, money laundering, assault, and robbery throughout the state of Oklahoma.
“It’s extreme, and if we do not continuously and consistently combat these individuals, they will continue to pop up and get stronger in time if they go unchecked,” said Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado.
The indictment said nine people were murdered by members of this group, some happening here in Tulsa.
Regalado said he remembers investigating the murder of a 24-year-old TU student, shot and killed by a UAB member in 2011.
“This particular individual not only murdered somebody, but he left behind the victim’s fiance who was present during that murder,” said Regalado. “It also traumatized hundreds of people.”
Regalado said he has a strong message for other members of this gang.
“We will come after you whether it’s on the streets or behind bars,” he said. “We will find you. We will indict you, and we will put you in prison.”
Although their work is far from over, Shores said this is a big step in making our state safer.
“Oklahomans in northeastern Oklahoma should sleep better at night knowing that we are aggressively pursuing this violent gang,” he said. “These deadly and lethal activities have gone on for far too long, and I have zero tolerance for them as do my partners in federal and state law enforcement.”
According to Shores, 15 of these members were prosecuted for racketeering, all 18 were prosecuted for distribution of meth and drug conspiracies and four were indicted for their roles in kidnapping.
The gangs’ violent acts date back to 2005.