For Immediate Release
Two Influential Members of the Universal Aryan Brotherhood Admit to Participating in a Racketeering Enterprise and Drug Conspiracy From Prison
Two Universal Aryan Brotherhood influential gang members pleaded guilty Tuesday for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that committed acts of murder, kidnapping, the trafficking of methamphetamine and firearms, money laundering, assault, and robbery throughout the State of Oklahoma, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
The UAB is a “whites only” prison-based gang with members operating inside and outside of state prisons throughout Oklahoma.
Christopher K. Baldwin, 42, and Robert W. Zeidler, 47, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise and to drug conspiracy, but both men refused to cooperate with the government.
The plea agreements, if accepted by U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan, stipulate that Baldwin and Zeidler will each serve 22 years in federal prison. The men will be sentenced April 6, 2022.
“The Universal Aryan Brotherhood is a criminal enterprise responsible for countless violent crimes and narcotics distribution throughout Oklahoma. The gang orchestrates a prolific drug trafficking operation responsible for distributing an estimated 2,500 kilograms of methamphetamine per year,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “My office and our local, state, federal, and tribal partners will continue to pursue and prosecute criminal organizations, like the UAB, who wreak havoc in northeastern Oklahoma. Baldwin and Zeidler’s guilty pleas are another step forward in dismantling this criminal organization and ensuring justice for victims.”
Baldwin and Zeidler were key players involved in UAB operations while imprisoned in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester. Incarcerated UAB members used contraband cell phones, social media and “kites” to carry out their operations. Kites are written communications, or notes, passed to intended recipients.
In their plea agreements, Baldwin and Zeidler stated that when joining the UAB they understood that members took part in racketeering activities to further the gang’s enterprise.
Baldwin admitted to being part of the gang from at least 1999 to 2017 and that during part of that time, he sat on the “Main Council,” the UAB’s highest governing body. Baldwin stated that he was involved directly or indirectly as a coconspirator in crimes of drug dealing, witness intimidation, money laundering and other crimes of violence.
Zeidler admitted to joining the gang and to committing or causing to be committed crimes related to the racketeering enterprise and drug conspiracy. Zeidler helped lead the gang’s methamphetamine operation.
Both men also admitted to knowingly and willfully agreeing with others to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams of methamphetamine. As part of the UAB’s operations, members and associates participated in a significant and widespread methamphetamine distribution scheme directed by incarcerated UAB leaders.
In conjunction with the gang’s large-scale methamphetamine operation, members also laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal drug proceeds for the benefit of the UAB enterprise, using cash transfers, stored value cards, PayPal, Green Dot, and Walmart money transfers. Investigators from the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) helped trace the money trail.
According to court documents, multiple kidnappings were also ordered in an effort to leverage and expand the UAB’s power and operations throughout Oklahoma. Members and associates of the enterprise used kidnapping as a way to enforce discipline, recoup drugs and other debts, and to ensure the individuals were not cooperating with law enforcement. Additionally, nine individuals were murdered as part of the UAB’s racketeering operations, often upon the orders of the Main Council.
“The guilty plea of these conspirators sends a strong message that those involved in criminal enterprises committing heinous acts of violence and drug trafficking will face swift prosecution,” said Christopher Miller, acting Special Agent in Charge HSI Dallas. “Working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, our agency is relentless in the pursuit of dismantling transnational criminal organizations wherever they operate.”
Both men were charged in an indictment along with 16 other members and associates of the UAB in December 2018. You can find the press release announcing charges in February 2019 here.
The UAB was established in 1993 within the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and modeled itself after the principles and ideology of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that formed in the 1960s.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and IRS-Criminal Investigation led the investigation with assistance from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Tulsa and Enid Police Departments, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis A. Fries is prosecuting this case.