On the street, green is the color that matters most.
Spawned in the Idaho prison system in the late 1980s or early 1990s, the Aryan Knights have always defined themselves by the color of their skin. As they spread from their incarcerated origins to the outside world, members took up the lucrative and cross-racial trade of methamphetamine trafficking, federal investigators said Tuesday.
Outside of prison, Aryan Knights continue to observe the white supremacist creed they share with Aryan gangs throughout the country, said Doug Hart, coordinator of the local-state-federal task force that investigated the gang for the past 10 months. But their separatism is not as rigid as it was behind bars, where race-based gang affiliation is a way of life, Hart said.
Several Latinos were among the 21 Knights and associates whose indictments U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson announced Tuesday.
Thats not surprising, Hart said. Gangs defined by race, as are the Aryan Knights, often associate with Latinos and other minorities in the name of making money off drugs and other illegal activities.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 17 Knights members and associates were in custody, Olson said. Four Nicholas Steele, Jesse Delgado, Darin Melton and Christina Massie were still being sought by law enforcement officials.
Olson expected more arrests to take place by Wednesday afternoon.
Charges against the indicted men and women are mostly related to distribution of methamphetamine and illegal possession of firearms. Olson said law enforcement officers seized more than 600 grams of methamphetamine and one gun linked to the Aryan Knights on Tuesday morning.
A wide range of law enforcement agencies have contributed to the investigation of Treasure Valley Aryan Knights and their business associates, Olson said. Those agencies include police departments and sheriffs offices across the Treasure Valley, as well as federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals.
There are no turf battles here, only a coordinated commitment to serve the public effectively and efficiently, Olson said.
Despite the Aryan Knights setback, she said, the gang continues to be active throughout Idaho, in and out of prison.
Sven Berg: 377-6275