Report: Fast-growing Nazi gang involved in drug trade and hate crimes

The Asssociated Press/August 20, 1999

Santa Ana, Calif. -- A white supremacy group is one of the fastest growing hate groups in the state and is blamed for menacing Southern California with a wave of assaults, theft and drug trafficking, according to a study.

The Nazi Lowriders, a prison-based gang, started in Costa Mesa and the Antelope Valley about six years ago. The group has recently spread across the country, with large clusters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The Anti-Defamation League released a report on Thursday on the gang's activities. The study relied on state and federal crime data.

Law enforcement officials said the white supremacist group is becoming one of the most dangerous gangs in Southern California. The report shows the gang has grown from 28 members in 1996 to an estimated 1,300 members nationwide in 1998.

"The Nazi Lowriders has successfully positioned itself as the gang of gangs in the world of white supremacy," said Sue Stengel, the Anti-Defamation League's Western states counsel.

Since the early 1990s, a number of drug and hate-related crimes in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties are linked to the Nazi Lowriders, officials said. In Lancaster, Nazi Lowriders over the last three years have been accused of beating a black teen-ager with a baseball bat and stabbing a black man several times in the back.

They have allegedly been involved in auto thefts and the methamphetamine drug trade and have been accused of attacking law enforcement officials.

"If we stop them and they decide that they don't want to do what we tell them ... many times they'll try to fight the officer," said Sgt. Mark Riley, a gang officer with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The hate group's members are typically in their late teens or early twenties and are covered in tattoos depicting Nazi symbols, the study said.

Paroled members of the group are also spilling out of prison walls into communities.

The group was formally recognized as a prison gang last year, subjecting its members to segregation while in custody. Nazi Lowriders are considered so dangerous that Los Angeles and Orange counties segregate them in county jails for fear they will attack black inmates, said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

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