21 members and associates of white supremacist gangs in Utah charged in meth, firearms trafficking cases

USA Utah News

Stock image | Photo by Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Twenty-one documented gang members and associates of several home-grown white supremacist gangs allegedly responsible for distributing drugs and firearms around the Salt Lake City and Ogden areas are charged in more than a dozen indictments unsealed Friday in federal court.

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Utah, the charges follow an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force into members of the Soldiers of Aryan Culture, Silent Aryan Warriors, Noble Elect Thugs and associates. The joint local-federal investigation resulted in 15 indictments alleging distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a narcotics trafficking offense.

The charges are the result of an investigation that started in June 2019 with the ATF and the two gang units joining together targeting drug and firearms trafficking activities throughout Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Ogden City by Soldiers of Aryan Culture members. The investigation reportedly led law enforcement officers to numerous documented gang members and associates trafficking in methamphetamine and firearms.

Many of the defendants have been involved in criminal conduct in Utah communities for years. In two cases, this criminal history will allow federal prosecutors to seek a significant federal sentencing enhancement if they are convicted of the charges.

Around 1.65 pounds of methamphetamine were purchased during the investigation. Fifteen firearms were recovered during the investigation, including 10 during the investigation and 5 when arrest warrants were executed Wednesday.

The following 21 defendants were charged in 15 separate indictments:

  • Steven Mack Swena and Clinton Dean Spencer
    • Distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum, 40 years statutory maximum, $5 million fine
    • Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 10 years mandatory minimum, Life maximum, $10 million fine
    • Felon in Possession of Firearm
      • Maximum penalty: 10 years statutory maximum, $250,000 fine
  •  Richard Ryan, Amanda Lee Graham, Jared Loren Brown and Thomas Radford
    • Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine (mixture) and aiding/abetting
      • Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum, 40 years statutory maximum, $5 million fine
  • Justin William Austin, Cody Kelly Wright and Jerrad Luis Colvin
    • Distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine (3 counts)
      • Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum, 40 years statutory maximum, $5 million fine
    • Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 10 year mandatory minimum, life statutory maximum, $10 million fine
    • Distribution of heroin (Austin)
      • Maximum penalty: Up to 20 years in prison, $1 million fine
      • Carry/use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Austin)Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum up to life statutory maximum, $250,000 fine
    • Felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition (Austin)
      • Maximum penalty: Up to 10 years statutory maximum, $250,000 fine
  • James William Broadhead
    • 2 counts of Distribution of methamphetamine
      • Maximum Penalty: 20 years statutory maximum, $1 million fine
    • 2 counts of Possession of Firearm In Furtherance of Narcotics Trafficking
      • Maximum Penalty: 5 years consecutive sentence, Life maximum
    • 3 counts of Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition
      • Maximum Penalty: 10 years statutory maximum, $250,000 fine
  • Johnathan Dale Miller
    • Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 10 years mandatory minimum, Life maximum, $10 million fine
    • Distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum, 40 years statutory maximum, $5 million fine
  • Brian Christopher Jenson
    • Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 10 years mandatory minimum, Life maximum, $10 million fine
  • Timothy Cox
  • Heather Brooke Hebdon
  • Jesse Harris
  • Bret Miller
    • Distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 5 years mandatory minimum, 40 years statutory maximum, $5 million fine
  • Michael Byrd
  • Timothy Daniel Jepsen
    • Distribution of Methamphetamine
      • Maximum penalty: 20 years statutory maximum, $1 million fine
  • Tyler William Riding
  • Jordan Anderson
  • Chance Robinson
    • Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition
      • Maximum Penalty: 10 years statutory maximum, $250,000 fine

Eleven defendants were arrested Wednesday. Another 10 were already in custody. Defendants in the cases will make initial appearances on the indictments in the coming weeks. Several are in state custody on other state criminal charges.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice. Established in 1982, the task force employs strategies to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics throughout the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to take on complex investigations. The task force facilitates joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

Agencies assisting in the organized crime investigation include the ATF, U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Ogden Police Department, the Unified Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Salt Lake Area Metro Gang Unit, the Ogden Metro Gang Unit, the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, West Valley City Police Department and the Utah Department of Public Safety’s State Bureau of Investigation.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

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