A white supremacist has been apprehended after he and a fellow inmate escaped from an Arkansas jail earlier this week.
The word came Wednesday that Wesley Gullett and Christopher Sanderson had disappeared from the Jefferson County Jail, but they may have escaped as early as Monday, according to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Kevin Sanders.
The fugitives fooled the guards into thinking they were still there with a simple ruse.
"We know they fashioned dummies and placed them in their beds to make it look like there were bodies in the beds, so as the guards went by to check, it appeared there were people lying down," Sanders told The Washington Post. Their method of escape was still under investigation, but Sanders said the jail's surveillance cameras were not working at the time the pair made a run for it. He declined to comment on whether jail officials were under investigation.
The U.S. Marshals Service announced Gullet's capture Thursday near the Ozark National Forest, while Sanderson remains at large.
Gullett, 30, is believed to be president of the New Aryan Empire, a white supremacist gang involved in distributing methamphetamine.
The U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Arkansas painted a brutal and bloody portrait of the gang's operations in February, when they announced a second round of indictments in a racketeering investigation that involved the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and state and local officials.
Prosecutors described the NAE as "racketeering enterprise which committed violent acts - including attempted murder, kidnapping, and maiming - in support of its organization and its wide-ranging drug-trafficking operation."
The NAE began as a prison gang but later expanded with some members moving into methamphetamine distribution, prosecutors said. A "majority" of the indicted members were felons, some of whom had violent histories.
Prosecutors allege that Gullett and others enlisted NAE members and associates in an unsuccessful attempt to murder a confidential informant. In 2017, members and associates of the group "kidnapped, stabbed, and maimed" two people for providing information to authorities. The victims were forced to write a letter of apology to an NAE member and his girlfriend.
During the investigation, "agents made 59 controlled purchases of methamphetamine, seizing more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as the 69 firearms and more than $70,000 in drug proceeds," according to the release.
Gullett, along with 53 other suspects, was hit with a superseding indictment in February, and faces eight charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm, distribution of methamphetamine and attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
According to Sanders, Gullett was arrested along a highway near the Ozark National Forest, where authorities had thought the pair were hiding and had searched extensively. A Dover, Arkansas, police officer patrolling his usual route spotted Gullett on the side of the road, and when asked to provide his name, Gullett answered the officer truthfully.
Sanders suspects that "we flushed him out of his area that he was hiding out, and that's how he ended up on the highway."
The other escapee, Sanderson, remains at large. He was not included in the February indictment against the NAE, and had separately been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Sanderson had previously been convicted of several charges, including delivery of a controlled substance and theft, according to a release by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Sanders, the U.S. marshal, assured The Post that Gullett will not be going back to the facility he came from.
"He will be put at a much . . . more restrictive jail," he said.
This article was written by Kayla Epstein, a reporter for The Washington Post.