A Florida official went undercover to help pioneer a neo-Nazi motorcycle gang, and now six members of a national hate group may soon be behind bars.
The five-year operation netted suspects on charges ranging from drug dealing to bomb threats. The central Florida mission used the ruse of a biker gang to bait white supremacists.
In 2007, an officer with the Orange County Sheriff's Office deceptively contacted an avowed white supremacist to begin laying the trap that culminated in the March arrests of 1st SS Kavallerie Brigade Motorcycle Division members.
The Orlando Sentinel exposed the depths to which the Orange County Sheriff and the FBI went to prosecute extremists.
At the center of the ploy was August Kreis III. Kreis has been involved since the late 1980s with the Christian Identity movement, an anti-Semitic religion that preaches white superiority. He has advocated for the mass murder of non-white people, and has stated that "the Jew is the enemy of all races on the planet," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization.
When the undercover officer first made contact, Kreis was also the leader of one splinter faction of Aryan Nations. Aryan Nations is a white supremacist religious organization that the FBI has called a "terrorist threat," according to the West Orlando News.
The officer, whose name has not been released, found that the faction leader was looking to create a Nazi motorcycle brigade. By 2010, the men had formed the 1st SS Kavallerie Brigade Motorcycle Division. Under a false name, the officer became the division's chief recruiter, and soon two undercover FBI agents were also members of the club.
Ostensibly, the group of motorcyclists functioned as a security crew for white supremacists. However, hidden cameras and microphones inside the gang's clubhouse ultimately led to arrests of six Aryan Nations members.
Members of the club "were obtaining explosives and explosives expertise, and they intended to use them to kill people in the United States," State Attorney Lawson Lamar told the Sentinel.
Brian Klose, the 49-year-old "Führer" of the gang, along with Ronald Cusack, 47; Carlos Eugene Dubose, 54; and Harold Johnson Kinlaw, 54; were arrested on charges that included threatening to throw, project, place, or discharge a destructive device. Kinlaw was also charged with attempting to solicit conspiracy and evidencing prejudice.
In addition, Cusak, Klose, and Dubose, along with Klose's 41-year-old wife, Leah, face a slew of drug charges. Deborah Plowman, 47, originally was arrested on possession of a controlled substance, but her charges have since been dropped, according to the Sentinel.
See Photos And Charges Of Those Arrested (Story Continues Below) :
Kreis was convicted separately in 2011 on federal fraud charges in South Carolina, where he was sentenced to six months in jail followed by a half-year of house arrest. A month after being sentenced, he stepped down as leader of his Aryan Nations faction.
In Florida, threatening to throw a destructive device is a second degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. However, if Brian Klose is convicted of this charge in addition to all seven of his drug charges--which include purchasing cocaine, distributing opium and trafficking controlled substances--he could be looking at 75 years in prison.
Nabbing hate group members on drug charges is "kind of the 'Al Capone theory' of prosecution," Assistant State Attorney Steven Foster told the Orlando Sentinel. Though Capone was suspected of a multitude of crimes, ranging from smuggling alcohol to prostitution to murder, federal authorities eventually were only able to jail him on charges of tax evasion.
"We decided to strike against the Kavallerie Brigade by bringing these heavy-duty drug charges to shut the active members down," Foster said.
The 1st SS Kavallerie Brigade Motorcycle Division was named after Hitler's SS Cavalry Brigade, a horse-mounted unit involved in the murder of Jews while stationed in the Soviet Union.
Pretrial hearings for those arrested will begin this week.