August 1, 2019 / 9:06 AM / 18 days ago

Suspected leader of white nationalist gang recaptured after Arkansas jail escape

(Reuters) - The accused leader of a white nationalist gang was recaptured on Thursday, one day after escaping from an Arkansas jail along with another inmate, the U.S. Marshals service said.

The second prisoner remains at large.

Wesley Gullett, 30, who prosecutors say was the head of the New Aryan Empire, and Christopher Sanderson, 34, went missing from the Jefferson County Jail in Pine Bluff, some 30 miles (50 km) south of Little Rock on Wednesday.

Gullett was apprehended on Thursday morning by the chief of the Dover, Arkansas Marshal’s Office, while Sanderson remains a fugitive, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a written statement. Details of Gullett’s capture were not immediately released.

“We are grateful to all our law enforcement partners who have devoted many personnel and countless hours to the search for Gullett and Sanderson,” Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Kevin Sanders said.

Federal prosecutors in 2017 charged Gullett and more than 40 other people with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, according to court documents.

In February, a federal grand jury named other defendants and brought additional charges against Gullett, including attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.

Gullett, who is from Russellville, Arkansas, has pleaded not guilty.

The New Aryan Empire began as a prison gang and branched out beyond prisons, with members committing violence to support a large drug-trafficking operation, the Department of Justice said in February.

Sanderson is awaiting trial on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. His prior convictions include possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and theft, the Marshals Service said.

The Marshals Service offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Gullett and a $5,000 reward for Sanderson. Agency officials warned that both men should be considered armed and dangerous.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Richard Chang

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