Major bust takes down Aryan prison gang that terrorized Las Vegas, authorities say


Steve Marcus

Dan Neill, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Nevada operations, speaks during a news conference at the the DEA offices Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. Officials announced multiple arrests in a recent takedown of the “Aryan Warrior” gang in Las Vegas.

Published Wed, Aug 21, 2019 (3:29 p.m.)

Updated Wed, Aug 21, 2019 (7:30 p.m.)

Facing TV cameras and flanked by law enforcement representatives Wednesday, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Nevada took the podium to speak about a major development regarding “one of the most dangerous gangs” in the Las Vegas Valley.

Four days earlier, Dan Neill said, local cops and their federal counterparts crippled the street operations of the prison-based Aryan Warriors gang. The six-month effort culminated before sunrise Saturday in seven simultaneous raids at valley homes.

The criminal reign of the Aryan ring on Las Vegas-area streets was apparently over, and its leadership decimated, but not before the gang left a trail of death:

There was Josue Contreras-Verdin, 24, who’d met with two of the alleged gang members — known by their aliases “Bullwinkle” and “Soup” — on Jan. 22 for a drug deal before he was shot and left to bleed out on a Las Vegas street as the suspects left in his car. Next was his friend, Juan Gonzalez-Cruz, 36, who also was pumped with bullets a couple of hours later when he tracked down the stolen vehicle in North Las Vegas.

Four days later, Thomas Glenn, a homeless man, was allegedly stabbed to death by “Soup” in a Las Vegas backyard.

Also there was Andrew Thurgood, who was kidnapped and suffered the same fate as Glenn three years earlier in a Nevada prison.

A Jan. 22 double slaying kick-started the probe that subsequently led to a 149-count indictment against 23 of the Aryan gang members. But the group is also accused of attempting to kill at least one person; assaults with a deadly weapon; extortion; drug trafficking; theft and fraud, according to the federal court document.

The gang wasn’t believed to have participated in white supremacist-related terrorism that has occurred nationally, rather it was targeted due to the level of street violence it has inflicted on the community, Metro Lt. Reggie Rader said.

“This gang is responsible for some of the worst crimes that have occurred in this community,” Metro Police Capt. John Leon said.

Saturday’s warrants yielded 10 arrests and the recovery of seven guns, two bulletproof vests, stolen vehicles, drugs and cash, Neill said.

Over the course of the investigation, which started in February, a task force of federal and local law enforcement officers netted about 30 arrests and seized 30 firearms — eight of which were stolen — four pounds of methamphetamine and a half-pound of heroin, officials said. The gang’s drug trafficking route from California to Las Vegas also was dismantled.

Indicted suspects:

Robert “Coco” Standridge (leader); Zackaria “Lil Dog” Luz (captain); Jess “Big Jess” Guth and Richard Manning (sergeants). Inmates: Thomas “Temper” Rinehart; Devin “Soup” Campbell; Anthony “Mugsy” Williams; Michael “Lil Mickey” Caifano; Tarik “Torque” Goicoechea; Christopher “Bullwinkle” Ashoff; Kody “Cowboy” Walker”; Kevin Stubbs; Stephen “Skitzo” Giles and Erick “E” Rasmussen. Others: Dorothy “Dot” Mitchell; Jack Basden; Korey Hopper; Petr “Checkers” Vondeneen; Gary “Bro Bro” Kingsland; Norma Snyder and Michael “Sully” Sullivan; Gary Kingsland and Tara Morris.

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