Deseret News, Aug. 14, 2002
By Pat Reavy
Deseret News staff writer
Police officers representing a dozen agencies from Weber to Utah counties met Tuesday to discuss the growing problem of crimes committed by Aryan Nation gang members.
Although the meeting was scheduled weeks ago, law enforcers said the Sunday night shooting death of Aryan Nation leader Scott Biswell by police made the meeting very timely.
For the past six months, police say, they have seen an increase in crimes committed by white supremacists. From Logan to Salt Lake City and from Tooele to Vernal, gang investigators said they are seeing forgeries, assaults, drive-by shootings, identity theft and home-invasion robberies being committed by members of an Aryan Nation gang.
“It’s become a statewide problem,” said detective Brent Jex with the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit.
Police said they’re concerned the white supremacists are becoming more bold with the crimes they commit. The majority of those crimes aren’t being carried out to promote their hate agenda, but rather to supply their drug habits.
“It all boils down to meth. All other crimes go with it,” Jex said.
What concerns police is that white supremacists tend to be more organized than other gangs and are traditionally more violent. The groups have published manuals of guidelines and bylaws for members to follow, and they hold meetings regularly.
There are four main white supremacist gangs in Utah, all with origins in the Utah State Prison. The two biggest groups are Soldiers of Aryan Culture and Silent Aryan Warriors. The Utah Department of Corrections has documented more than 350 white supremacists who have been in prison at one time. About 200 of those people are currently at the Point of the Mountain.
Gang police say white supremacists go in and out of the prison like there’s a revolving door in front.
Most white supremacists are easy to spot because of their heavily tattooed bodies. A member with a giant swastika tattooed across his head isn’t uncommon. In addition to showing rank and affiliation, the tattooed bodies of the white supremacists also gain the desired effect of intimidating the public.
Many of their tattoos, or “patches,” as they call them, have to be earned by committing certain crimes. Patches are administered like a military rank.
Jex said Soldiers of Aryan Culture recently created a new patch that was to be given to a member who killed a police officer. Biswell had reportedly told others that he intended to earn that patch first, Jex said.
It’s that kind of information that officers shared with each other on Tuesday.