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Suspects in Aryan Warriors case appear in Las Vegas courtroom

Updated August 29, 2019 - 6:26 pm

More than a dozen people tied to a violent white supremacist prison gang in Nevada faced a judge Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas.

In an indictment unsealed last week, prosecutors charged 23 people with more than 150 counts, ranging from murder and robbery to drug trafficking and racketeering.

Thirteen of those defendants, who are being held in the Clark County Detention Center, appeared briefly before District Judge Douglas Herndon in a courtroom packed with law enforcement officers and several family members.

All but three of those indicted already are behind bars in what the Drug Enforcement Administration called a “major investigative takedown” of the Aryan Warriors gang in Las Vegas.

This month alone, a Clark County gang task force with representatives from the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Clark County district attorney’s office, the Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas police, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Department of Corrections seized seven guns, two bulletproof vests, a stolen trailer, three stolen motorcycles, four fake identification labs, methamphetamine, heroin and $9,700 in cash.

Among those also charged are the gang’s reputed leader, known as the “horn holder,” 37-year-old Robert “Coco” Standridge, who is being held at High Desert State Prison, and Zackaria “Lil Dog” Luz, known as the gang’s “street captain,” or second in command. He also is imprisoned at High Desert. Neither was brought to court Thursday.

Two of the men named in the indictment, Devin “Soup” Campbell, 24, and Christopher “Bullwinkle” Ashoff, 38, have been tied to a pair of killings in Las Vegas that occurred on the same day earlier this year.

Campbell and Ashoff pleaded not guilty to murder and racketeering charges on Thursday.

Defense attorney Mace Yampolsky, who represents Ashoff, said he hoped to take the case to trial within 60 days.

“I don’t believe he was involved in any racketeering,” Yampolsky said. “He doesn’t even know a lot of these people, and the ones he does know, he hasn’t talked to in years.”

Alan Buttell, who represents Campbell, suggested that he could seek a new location for trial.

“This unprecedented, overwhelming show of law enforcement, coupled with the media, it’s occurring to me if we do this, it’s creating issues for a possible necessity for a venue motion,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. We’ve got, like, the army here.”

One of the four murder counts charged in the indictment stems from a 2016 killing inside High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs.

Andrew Thurgood, 26, who was serving time at the prison for attempted possession of a stolen vehicle, was fatally stabbed during a fight with two other inmates, prison officials said at the time.

Anthony “Mugsy” Williams and Tarik “Torque” Goicoechea are charged in the indictment with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in Thurgood’s death. They did not make court appearances on Thursday.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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