Five members of a pervasive white supremacist gang that ruled prison yards through violence and drug dealing were found guilty Monday of at least one count of a federal indictment issued in 2008.
The Aryan Warriors, who corrupted prison guards in order to operate gambling rings and smuggle in drugs, faced charges including racketeering, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms during drug trafficking offenses.
Charles Gensemer, James Wallis, Mike Yost, Robert Young and Kenny Krum are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 7. A sixth one-time gang member on trial, Ronnie Lee Jones, was found not guilty.
“As this case shows, members of violent crime enterprises, whether found on the streets of our community or inside our prisons, will be aggressively prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Gregory Brower said.
Jones’ attorney, Mark Bailus, told jurors that Jones was a member of the Aryan Warriors decades ago, but retired when new, young leadership with a different agenda took over. Bailus successfully argued that Jones left his prison life behind and started anew.
“I’m thankful they’re allowing him to go home to his family and move on with his life,” Bailus said after Jones, 49, was acquitted of all charges. “Once he got out of prison, he got a girlfriend and a job and left the Aryan Warriors behind him.”
Other attorneys defending the white supremacist gang had a more challenging task. Each told the jury that the Aryan Warriors were a white gang that banded together to protect themselves from other racial gangs, an argument jurors apparently did not buy.
Osvaldo Fumo’s client, 45-year-old Gensemer, was found guilty of racketeering, conspiring to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine and use of a firearm. The government claimed that even though Gensemer was out of prison, he helped enrich and further the Aryan Warriors’ cause on the streets by running one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever discovered in the state.
While Fumo argued that Gensemer was not associated with the Aryan Warriors once he was released from prison, federal agents found an Aryan Warriors flag hanging inside his Las Vegas home and a swastika etched into a rock in his backyard.
Still, during the seven-week trial, Gensemer’s name was hardly mentioned by witnesses, some of whom were former Aryan Warriors who said they were unfamiliar with him. Gensemer had been out of prison since the early 1990s.
“I’m shocked,” Fumo said.
Aside from the racketeering charge, Krum, 39, was found guilty of the drug conspiracy. Young, 31, was only charged with racketeering.
The Aryan Warriors found guilty of racketeering and drug conspiracy charges will likely face a minimum of 20 years in prison. Gensemer faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years because of the weapons charge.
Aside from Jones, Yost, 55, was the only Warrior found not guilty of the racketeering charge. Yost faces several years in prison because the jury found him guilty of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
Wallis, 48, belonged to the criminal enterprise, the jury ruled, and was also found guilty of stabbing a fellow Aryan Warrior with a prison-made knife inside the North Las Vegas Detention Center. Wallis is already serving a 66-year sentence.
Wallis’ attorney, Kevin Stolworthy, knew he was in for a difficult defense because Wallis was a “horn holder” during the conspiracy between 1990 and 2008. Horn holders are leaders of the gang. They are followed by bolt holders and then soldiers.
“There just wasn’t much I could do with that,” Stolworthy said of Wallis’ Aryan Warrior status.
Although the government attempted to paint Wallis as the “mastermind” behind a drug operation that smuggled methamphetamine and marijuana into prison, he was acquitted of that charge.
Shortly after the verdict was read, U.S. Marshals escorted jurors from the courthouse. Due to threats of domestic terrorism, security was tight during the trial and jurors were only referred to by numbers, not names. None of the jurors were available for interviews after the verdict.
Prosecutors spent weeks presenting evidence to show how the Aryan Warriors murdered or attempted to murder fellow inmates in their effort to dominate prison yards throughout the state. The gang was aggressive, even striking fear into prison guards who looked the other way when drugs were smuggled in and sold to enrich and empower the brotherhood. During the trial, FBI agents testified that the guards were still under investigation. None of security personnel had been indicted so far.
Prosecutors also explained how child molesters, homosexuals and informants were targeted and attacked when they entered prison yards. The Aryan Warriors extorted money from families of the targeted groups.
When members of the brotherhood failed to abide by the gang’s manifesto, they were often “blooded out;” attacked, stabbed and sometimes even killed by their own.
The government contended the gang also started a street program, making and selling drugs on the outside to enrich the Warriors. Money was placed on members’ books inside prison, allowing them to purchase special items such as televisions.
Eight members of the Aryan Warriors pleaded guilty prior to trial.
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710.