Public Enemy No.1 is a white supremacist gang that began two decades ago as a group of teenage punk-rock fans from upper middle class communities in Southern California.
According to authorities, this violent gang is dealing in drugs, guns and identity theft and gaining clout across the West. Their clout rose after they forged alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood.
The Aryan Brotherhood originated in California’s San Quentin Prison in the 1960s. It has since spread to prisons throughout the United States. The Aryan Brotherhood is affiliated with the paramilitary hate group Aryan Nations. The Aryan Brotherhood is not known to be as systematically organized as other prison gangs, like the Bloods, Crips or the Mexican Mafia, but its reputation for violence is well documented.
As a sign of just how bold Public Enemy has become they have compiled a “hit list”, that is targeting five officers and a gang prosecutor.
“They make police officers very, very nervous,” said Cpl. Nate Booth, a gang detective with the Buena Park Police Department.
Public Enemy’s rise in clout comes as another white supremacist gang loses its foothold. The Nazi Low Riders have acted for years as foot soldiers on the outside for drug dealing and identity theft for the Aryan Brotherhood. But in 2000, officials reclassified the Nazi Low Riders as a prison-based gang. This new classification now has Nazi Low Riders gang members being sent to solitary confinement as soon as they are imprisoned.
The Nazi Low Riders originated inside the California prison system just like the Aryan Brotherhood, but also have active members beyond the walls of the prison. The Aryan Brotherhood aligned itself with the Nazi Low Riders in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Nazi Low Riders remained a separate gang but had helped promote the Aryan Brotherhood’s interests within the prison system.
With the Aryan Brotherhood losing its ability to interact with the members of the Nazi Low Riders they had to turn somewhere. That somewhere just happened to be Public Enemy. The pact between the two gangs came in 2005 when Donald Reed “Popeye” Mazza , the leader of Public Enemy, was inducted into the Aryan Brotherhood.
According to Steve Slaten, a special agent for the California Department of Corrections, the alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood, has increased Public Enemy’s wealth and recruiting power.
Over the past three years, Public Enemy’s ranks have doubled to at around 400. Authorities on the other hand suspect there could be hundreds of members operating under the radar.
They are now also involved in identity theft. They have gone from stealing personal information from mailboxes and trash to stealing entire credit profiles. They are able to do this because of the help they receive from girlfriends and wives that take jobs at banks and mortgage companies. Their girlfriends and wives have even been known to take jobs at state motor vehicle departments.
Public Enemy used the money from those operations to fuel its methamphetamine business, according to Booth.
67 suspected members were arrested by police agencies in Orange County two months ago. The arrests came after learning of the hit list against the officers in Anaheim, Buena Park and Costa Mesa. Charges against those arrested included conspiracy to commit murder, possession of illegal weapons and identity theft. Their names or further details were not released by police because the investigation is continuing.
Booth said that authorities are worried that Public Enemy is using stolen credit information to learn the home addresses of police and their families. Some officers have gone to court to have addresses removed from those records.
Anti Defamation League