Nineteen people with alleged ties to white supremacist groups have been arrested in Riverside County, California, on robbery, drug and firearms violations.
The four-month investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the FBI initially focused on Howard Michael Marshall, a volunteer with the Paloma Valley High School football team who allegedly tried to recruit teenagers into a white supremacist group.
Marshall, 44, was arrested in August and November and has been charged with seven drug and weapons related felonies. He is currently in federal custody. Marshall's arrest prompted a larger investigation that led to additional arrests.
Authorities said that nearly 100 firearms, including illegal assault weapons, and over 15,000 rounds of ammunition were seized in raids conducted in Winchester, Menifee and Meadowbrook.
The searches also uncovered hate literature and Nazi paraphernalia, including flags and boots with swastikas. Photographs seized during the raids show teenagers and adults giving Nazi salutes. In one of the recovered photos, two young girls, believed to be under the age of 12, are standing with adults in front of a Nazi flag while giving the Nazi salute.
Lt. Scott Madden said that many of those arrested, including Marshall, were recruiting at high schools for three white supremacist groups, including Public Enemy Number One (a.k.a. PENI or PEN1), a violent white supremacist prison/street gang with approximately 200 members in California.
The Anti-Defamation League applauded the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Riverside Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the extensive investigation and subsequent arrests. "This kind of multi-agency law enforcement operation can counteract and help prevent the spread of extremist ideology," said Amanda Susskind, Director, Pacific Southwest Region of the ADL.
This was the latest in a series of arrests of white supremacists in southern California. Two dozen other people associated with white supremacist groups have been arrested in San Bernardino County in recent months since a joint investigation by sheriff's deputies and the FBI began in November 2003. A majority of those arrests also stem from drug and firearm violations.