Two people charged in a racketeering conspiracy that involves a methamphetamine trafficking ring in the Russellville area and an Arkansas-based white supremacist group pleaded guilty Thursday in a Little Rock federal courtroom to violent crimes committed as part of the conspiracy.
Adam F. Mitchell, also known as "Pork Chop," and Amanda Rapp both pleaded guilty in separate hearings to two counts of kidnapping in aid of racketeering.
Mitchell and Rapp admitted being part of a group that kidnapped two people identified only by initials -- K.D. and C.L. -- between June 4 and June 6 of 2014. They admitted the crimes were carried out for the purpose of gaining entrance to, or maintaining or increasing their positions in, the New Aryan Empire, the white supremacist group.
Mitchell also pleaded guilty to two other charges: assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and maiming in aid of racketeering. The assault charge alleges that during the same time period, he and six other named defendants and "others known and unknown to the grand jury" assaulted someone identified only as H.D. with a knife and a bat, while the maiming charge states that the group maimed H.D. with a hot knife, causing permanent disfigurement.
Like the kidnapping charges, the assault and maiming charges accuse the defendants of being motivated by gaining entrance into, or maintaining or increasing their positions in, the Empire.
Mitchell and Rapp were facing a jury trial involving multiple defendants and a variety of charges that stemmed from a local and federal investigation that began in 2016 to identify, infiltrate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations in Russellville. Prosecutors have said the investigation revealed that a methamphetamine ring involved members of the Empire, which began as a prison gang.
On Oct. 3, 2017, 44 people from the Pope County area were indicted on drug and gun charges. Then a superseding indictment handed up on Feb. 5, 2019, added 11 defendants, including Mitchell and Rapp, as well as charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and maiming against some defendants.
About half of the defendants have pleaded guilty, and some of them have been sentenced, while the rest await trial. The complexity of the case prompted U.S. District Judge Brian Miller to appoint a special master to help manage it.
In court Thursday afternoon, Miller told Rapp, 39, that ordinarily he would ask federal prosecutors to read aloud a synopsis of what they thought they could prove at trial against the person pleading guilty. But he said the complexity of the case has led prosecutors to submit a written seven-page statement of facts detailing allegations that wouldn't be read aloud and would be filed under seal.
Details of the crimes to which Mitchell and Rapp pleaded guilty also weren't described in their written plea agreements, which were publicly filed.
In announcing the indictment of 55 of the Aryan Nation's roughly 5,000 members in February of 2013, authorities said the investigation, dubbed To The Dirt, began in 2016 when federal authorities assisted the Pope County sheriff's office in a murder case involving the supremacist group that began as a prison gang in 1990 and later expanded into neighboring communities and states.
Officials said an inmate at the Pope County jail in Russellville founded the Empire, which was described as a "violent and highly structured criminal enterprise" associated with other white supremacist groups such as the Aryan Brotherhood.
The term "To The Dirt" refers to the Empire's slogan referring to a rule that members must remain in the group until they die, according to U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland.
Authorities allege that between May 2014 and May 2016, New Aryan associates Marcus Millsap, 52, of Danville and James Oliver, 48, of Russellville, along with the group's president, Wesley Gullett, 30, of Russellville, solicited several members and associates to murder a confidential informant.
The grand jury found that in January 2016, two New Aryan members unsuccessfully attempted to kill the informant.
The grand jury found that between May 28, 2017, and June 6, 2017, members and associates kidnapped, stabbed and maimed two people in retaliation for giving information to law enforcement authorities about another member. The kidnapping victims were forced to write letters of apology to the New Aryan Empire member and his girlfriend, the indictment said.