By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A white supremacist gang leader previously convicted of crimes in Wyoming was sentenced to life in federal prison this week.
Harlan Hale, 55, a leader of the Idaho prison gang known as the Aryan Knights, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy and one count of committing a violent crime in furtherance of racketeering activity.
Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Nye in Idaho ordered this life sentence be served after Hale finishes serving his sentences from cases in Idaho and Wyoming.
Hale was sentenced to 32 years in prison in connection with a car hijacking in Wyoming.
According to the Associated Press, in 2005, police in Idaho found Hale in possession of a gun, although he was barred from owning weapons due to a previous conviction. He fled in a vehicle before he could be apprehended, leading law enforcement on a chase.
He was captured and taken to a jail in Boise before escaping. Police said he hijacked a woman’s car and fled to Wyoming, later stealing a truck at gunpoint. He was pursued by Wyoming authorities until the truck crashed and he was arrested.
According to court records, Hale held a leadership role in the Aryan Knights and participated in drug trafficking and violent assaults. The drug trafficking was extensive and involved significant quantities of methamphetamine.
When debts went unpaid, the gang used violence to collect, according to records
For example, in 2015, Hale assaulted another inmate for failing to pay a drug debt, then provided that inmate with additional drugs and required he sell the drugs in order to pay back the debt.
In 2016, Hale and two other gang members assaulted a former Aryan Knights member with improvised knives, with Hale stabbing the victim repeatedly.
“The life sentence imposed on this defendant recognizes the devastating effects that prison gangs, and especially white supremacist prison gangs, have on the rehabilitative mission of correctional institutions and individual inmates who sincerely hope to use their period of incarceration to successfully reenter society,” said U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. “Violent crime will not be tolerated, whether out of prison or in prison, and I commend the FBI and investigators at the Idaho Department of Correction for creating an effective partnership to root out the type of racketeering activity uncovered through this investigation.”
According to an indictment, the Aryan Knights was formed in the mid-1990s within the Idaho prison system. The gang operates both within and outside of the Idaho Department of Corrections.
The gang was founded to organize criminal activity for a select group of white inmates within IDOC custody. The Aryan Knights have white supremacist and white separatist ideologies, and the group is believed to have more than 100 members.
The gang uses violence and threats to target non-white inmates and other marks. They also use drag trafficking, extortion and gambling to generate revenue, which is then shared among members.
“The crimes of organized prison gangs often go beyond the prison walls, bringing more drugs and violence into our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Dennis Rice of the Salt Lake City FBI. “This life sentence should be a message to others involved in violent gang crimes—regardless of where it takes place—that law enforcement will investigate and hold them accountable.”
Ten members of the AK were charged in this case. Seven of these defendants have pleaded guilty so far, with three being sentenced.