Dozens of members of two white supremacist Florida prison gangs were indicted on a range of drug and weapons felony charges, federal prosecutors announced last week.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida said that 39 members of the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood gangs were arrested as part of a three-year sting operation dubbed “Operation Blackjack.” Several functioning pipe bombs, a rocket launcher, and pounds of crystal meth and fentanyl were seized as part of the raid, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The defendants ranged in age from 24 to 48 and face between two years and life behind bars. Among the more serious charges: Richard Morman, 31, was hit with two counts of possessing pipe bombs; Joshua Koezeno, 25, was charged with possessing 50 grams of meth or more with the intent to distribute; and Donald “Dino” Dussell was charged with eight counts of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, distributing heroin, and distributing meth.
Prior felony convictions factored into the charges for 23 of the defendants.
In a press release announcing the charges, prosecutors described the 39 individuals as members of the two violent prison gangs in the headline, but the body of the press release and related court documents make no mention of their affiliation with these groups or of their own racist views.
Asked for additional comment on defendants’ links to the group, a DOJ spokesperson told TPM that the drug sting resulted from an undercover agent’s infiltration of Unforgiven.
“Operation Blackjack stemmed from the infiltration of the Unforgiven white supremacist gang members and their associates by a former Unforgiven white supremacist gang member and an undercover agent posing as an Unforgiven white supremacist gang member,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the Aryan Brotherhood as “the nation’s oldest major white supremacist prison gang and a national crime syndicate.” The group, which has an estimated 20,000 members, is involved in drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, extortion, and drug trafficking; much of their work is conducted from behind prison walls. Membership requires recruits to attack or murder a rival gang member or corrections officer, per the SPLC.
Unforgiven is “the largest white supremacist prison gang in Florida,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. Members identify themselves with a symbol of an interlocking Iron Cross and swastika, with SS lightning bolts in the center.
This post has been updated to include comment from DOJ.