Three arrested in crimes linked to white supremacist prison gang
An investigation into a white supremacist prison gang has led to the arrest of three men in Josephine County and the seizure of illegal drugs, marijuana and firearms.
Eric William Robert Kelly, 33, and Kyle David Thier, 37, both of Grants Pass, face racketeering, robbery and drug charges accusing them of being part of an organized crime ring linked to the European Kindred or “EK” prison gang, according to a press release issued by the multi-agency Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team.
Nathaniel David Anderson, 32, of Medford, faces felony robbery charges accusing him of joining Kelly and Thier in a June 7 Josephine County robbery that may have involved at least two other EK members, according to documents filed by the DA’s office.
Few details have been released about the June 7 robbery except that it took place in Josephine County, allegedly involved the three suspects “and other EK members,” and that “the EK members used firearms to rob individuals of approximately $9,000,” according to an affidavit filed by RADE.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, EK is a white supremacist gang that began at the Snake River Correctional Institution about two decades ago and has since expanded to hundreds at prisons in several western states and more than 100 members out of prison.
In the months that followed the June 7 robbery, RADE investigated EK activity in Southern Oregon by working with multiple local, state and federal agencies such as the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force, Oregon Department of Justice organized crime division, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The investigation prompted at least two search warrants over the past month, according to RADE, and the seizure of about 100 pounds of marijuana and 30 firearms.
RADE alleges in an affidavit that Kelly was a “shot caller” for EK who has organized multiple drug deals involving “multiple pounds” of methamphetamine along with smaller amounts of heroin, but starting last month Kelly also began “multiple pound level marijuana delivery” transactions involving marijuana from Josephine County to be exported out of state.
On Oct. 15, RADE searched a Hugo area home after police say they witnessed Thier transport large quantities of marijuana to the property. At least 70 pounds of marijuana was seized from that location, according to police.
On Oct. 25, police say, Thier illegally sold a firearm in a transaction that occurred at a bar in Merlin.
On Nov. 6, RADE searched a property in the 1700 block of Hugo Road, Merlin. Police say they found at least five illegally obtained firearms inside a safe and more than 10 pounds of marijuana belonging to Thier.
Kelly, Thier and Anderson each made their initial court appearances Monday on charges of first- and second-degree robbery and first-degree theft for their alleged involvement in the June robbery, court records show.
Kelly and Thier also made their first court appearances on a racketeering charge accusing them of multiple crimes linked to EK; however, the charges differed between the two suspects.
Thier faces charges of unlawfully delivering a marijuana item and two counts of unlawfully possessing marijuana or hemp, along with five counts of felon in possession of a firearm in the racketeering case.
Kelly faces charges of unlawfully delivering methamphetamine, unlawfully delivering heroin, unlawfully importing or exporting a marijuana item and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants.
On Tuesday evening, the suspects were still being held in the Josephine County Jail. Kelly was held on $750,000 bail, Thier were held on $500,000 bail and Anderson was held on $250,000 bail.
In a press release, RADE stated that “additional charges may be added” later. Anyone with information was asked to call Grants Pass police Det. Sgt. Doni Hamilton at 541-450-6370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and reference case Nos. 2020-51213 and 2020-51295.