The leader of a white supremacist gang in Arkansas who is facing charges of attempted murder and illegal drug distribution escaped from a county jail, the United States Marshals Service said on Wednesday.
The leader, Wesley Gullett, fled the Jefferson County Detention Center in Pine Bluff, Ark., with another inmate, Christopher Sanderson, a felon who is facing a firearms possession charge in an unrelated case.
There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. Gullett, 30, whom prosecutors identified as the president of the New Aryan Empire, and who was ensnared earlier this year in a roundup of 54 members of the hate group. There is also a $5,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. Sanderson, 34.
“Gullett and Sanderson should be considered armed and dangerous,” the Marshals Service said.
The Marshals Service was informed of the escape at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press, though it is unclear when the escape occurred.
“We were made aware this morning of the inmates’ escape and are working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to secure their return into custody,” Cody Hiland, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said in a statement on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, but the Jefferson County sheriff, Lafayette Woods Jr., told The Pine Bluff Commercial that the escapees put “dummy bodies” in their beds during a bed check. The sheriff said a staffing shortage and delayed renovations to the jail due to a funding crunch left the facility vulnerable to an escape. Pine Bluff is about 43 miles southeast of Little Rock.
Leslie Borgognoni, a lawyer for Mr. Gullett, declined to comment on Wednesday.
In an indictment unsealed in February, prosecutors said the New Aryan Empire sold “copious amounts” of methamphetamine around the Arkansas River Valley. The group, known as N.A.E., has been compared by authorities to gangs like MS-13, the Bloods, the Crips and the Aryan Brotherhood.
Mr. Gullett is accused of plotting the attempted murder of Bruce Wayne Hurley, a government informant who was killed in 2016. Mr. Hurley’s killer was not identified in the indictment.