Gang affiliation point of contention in federal meth case

kterhune@idahostatesman.comJuly 16, 2013 

The attorney for a man sentenced to prison Monday on drug charges is crying foul about federal prosecutors' assertions that his client had ties to the Aryan Knights gang.

Jose Silva, 31, was sentenced to 52 months in prison after pleading guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. Silva, a Boise resident, sold a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine to an undercover informant in January 2012.

Prosecutors say that Silva had ties to the white supremacist prison gang. A lengthy investigation into the gang’s dealings in meth and firearms outside of prison netted 23 people, including Silva, prosecutors said.

But Silva’s lawyer, Gabriel McCarthy, insists that his client was never associated with the gang or its members.

Silva was being unfairly lumped in with a group he had no dealings with, McCarthy said. Any possible links connecting the Boise man with the Aryan Knights were so tenuous that Silva was not aware of them, he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Atwood said he was comfortable classifying the man as an "associate" of the gang. The qualifications for being considered an associate of a group can vary from a minor link to a close connection, he said.

Atwood declined to specify where in that range Silva fell, or to discuss specifics of why he believed Silva was connected to the white supremacist gang.

A press release about Silva’s sentencing sent out Monday also paints the man as linked to the Knights.

"Through the investigation, law enforcement agents identified Aryan Knights gang members who were trafficking methamphetamine, as well as associates of the gang who were the source of that methamphetamine," the release read about the 23 defendants.

McCarthy said the release was misleading, and argued that any gang affiliation was never mentioned during Silva’s court proceedings nor in indictment documents.

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