Prison and Prisoners

Members of Aryan Knights prison gang in Idaho, indicted on racketeering charges

Inmates walk within the walls of the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise.

A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted ten members of an Idaho white supremacist prison gang on charges under the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

United States Attorney, Bart Davis made the announcement at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

An FBI investigation into the Aryan Knights prison gang or “AK” at the request of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), which took place over three years, has resulted in criminal charges including racketeering, attempted murder, and drug trafficking.

Investigators say the group was involved in smuggling large amounts of drugs into prison over years, generating earnings and laundered the proceeds through an outside business. 

“The AK has used violence and the threat of violence to target non-white inmates and other targeted inmates. The AK also has used drug trafficking, extortion and gambling to generate revenue, which was shared among members.” Davis said. 

The indictment alleges the AK was founded to organize criminal activity among white inmates and has operated in the Idaho prison system since the 1990s. The gang has around 165 members in IDOC custody and 100 who have been released from custody, officials said.

Nine of the 10 people, all members of the gang, are already in custody of the IDOC.

They are charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, Davis said. Four of them were also charged with attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

The nine men charged were identified as:

  • James Ramsey, age 38
  • Christopher Foss, age 30
  • Harlan Hale, age 53
  • Steven Bowman, age 36
  • Jeremy Brown, age 40
  • Nicolas Sites, age 34
  • Buck Pickens, age 30
  • Lucas Johnson, age 30
  • Michael McNabb, age 34

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ramsey and Hale were also charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering for the June 2016 stabbing of another AK member who had come into conflict with Ramsey, the gang’s leader at the time.

Bowman and Mark Woodland, age 48, were charged with attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering for the February 2017 beating and stabbing of an inmate associated with a rival prison gang.

Ramsey, Foss, Hale, Bowman, Sites, Pickens and Johnson face life in prison on the charge of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. Brown and McNabb face 20 years.

Johnson, a former IDOC inmate, was arrested yesterday.

The charge of attempted murder in aid of racketeering is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.

The FBI, IDOC’s Special Investigations Unit, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office participated in the investigation.