27 indicted in prison drug ring with ties to white supremacy
This week a federal grand jury in Tacoma indicted 24 people, most from Washington state, accused of trafficking drugs and weapons in multiple states. Federal authorities say many members of the drug ring have ties to a white supremacist prison gang.
Authorities from the FBI, Department of Justice, DEA, and local police departments announced the drug bust on Monday in Tacoma. Nick Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said the investigation into the drug ring stretched nearly two years and involved more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in multiple states.
Officials say the group bought and sold hundreds of pounds of dangerous drugs including methamphetamine and fentanyl in states including Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and Arizona. Nearly two million doses of fentanyl were seized, authorities say.
“There was enough fentanyl seized — just fentanyl — to kill every single person in Tacoma, every single person in Seattle, and 500,000 more people,” Brown told KUOW in an interview.
Police also captured more than 230 guns in the process, which Brown said most were semi-automatic rifles bound for Mexico to be sold.
Following the deadly school shooting in Nashville on Monday, Brown said, “Keeping those guns away from people who tend to use them for harm is really important.”
About half of the people indicted have ties to a white supremacist prison gang, authorities claim. The leader of the drug ring, 39-year-old Jesse James Bailey from Steilacoom, is described as an “influential member” of Aryan Family gang in court documents.
Some of the defendants are already incarcerated in Washington prisons for other crimes.
On Monday the 24 members began appearing in court in Tacoma. Authorities say three other people have also been indicted but have not yet been captured. Law enforcement are searching for them now. Brown said the remaining suspects would be found eventually.
One of the defendants is 54-year-old Sean Moinette from Spanaway, who’s being charged with conspiracy.
Moinette’s attorney, Lance Hester, wrote in an email that, “the only reports I’ve received from law enforcement to date are minimal and do not describe anything that helps understand the breadth of the alleged conspiracy.”
Hester continued that Moinette pleaded not guilty and it appears nothing was seized from him during his arrest.