PASCO COUNTY, Florida – Authorities in Florida seized a stash of illegal firearms, methamphetamine, heroin, crack-cocaine and multiple pipe bombs while carrying out an operation aimed at taking down white nationalist gangs, reported the Florida Phoenix.
The gangs referred to themselves as the “Unforgiven” and the “United Aryan Brotherhood” and have been under investigation by Florida and National authorities over the course of the last 3 years. The investigation was dubbed “Operation-Blackjack.” The 39 alleged gang members were arrested in an area just North of Tampa and West of Orlando.
Over 100 firearms were taken in the bust. WFTS in Florida reported that a rocket launcher was among the seized weaponry.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms assisted in the operation, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department. ATF Special Agent in Charge, Craig Kailimai told WFTS, “In getting these 39 dangerous individuals off of the street and seizing guns and explosives that could have been used in violent acts, the community of Pasco County is a little safer.”
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Law Poverty Center have listed both the “Unforgiven” and “United Aryan Brotherhood” as prison gangs and hate groups. This bust comes at a time where tensions within the U.S. are steadily increasing from the threat of white supremacists and anti-Semitic groups.
Pasco County Florida: Rocket Launcher, Pipe Bombs, Firearms Seized in Raids on White Supremacist Gangs https://t.co/Y4EpWybAC5
— Jason M. Melton (@JasonMeltonEsq) November 19, 2018
However, this is not the only uptick in extremist crime in recent notable history.
Last year, police in Tampa Bay made arrests after discovering a garage filled with bomb-making materials. The suspects also had ties to white nationalist groups.
Additionally, in May of 2017 a Florida man was taken into custody after shooting his roommates, informing police that they were part of a white supremacist group who were planning to carry out violent attacks and mass killings. Due to the man’s conversion to Islam, he wanted to leave the group, but was allegedly teased and tormented about it. He stated that he believed by taking their lives, he would save others.
The man was brought up on charges, but a third roommate was released from custody after claiming that the explosive materials found on his property were used for model rockets. It was later reported that the man was one of the founders of the neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen. He was charged and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Activity attributed to Atomwaffen has been reported in multiple states, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, North Carolina and Virginia. The group’s vile propaganda often promotes violence against minority communities, including LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, and African Americans.”
The Atomwaffen Division is a paramilitary neo-Nazi group that has been linked to suspects in at least 5 killings.
It is among the most violent groups on the far-right. https://t.co/QhRwWjcYTo
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) February 12, 2018
It’s become clear that the issue of hate crimes and extremist groups is only increasing, and until we can find a way to curb the violence, both law enforcement and the general population are at risk.