Saturday, November 18, 2017
Public safety

Pasco deputies arrest Nazis near scene of 2006 neo-Nazi attack

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Five "self-proclaimed" neo-Nazis were arrested after an investigation found drugs, firearms and Nazi propaganda in their possession, said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Deputies made the arrests Tuesday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant for the home at 9240 Kiowa Dr. All five lived there in the same home in the Griffin Park neighborhood.

FROM 2010: Neo-Nazi John Ditullio gets life sentence in 2006 stabbings

Those arrested were three men and two women: and Michael Baun, 28; Steven Crumbley, 31; Alexander Nowokunski, 33; Gabrielle Price, 24; and Melinda Zalneraitis, 47.

Crumbley and Nowokunski are documented gang members, the sheriff said, but he would not identify those gangs.

Deputies are still looking for Justin Hopper, 28, who is wanted for possession of a stolen motorcycle.

"If they don't return to our community," Nocco said, "it's a better day for all of us."

The Griffin Park area has a history of hate groups going back more than a decade. In 2006, neo-Nazi John Ditullio Jr. was living in an American Nazi compound on Teak Street when he put on a gas mask and attacked the home next door. Ditullio fatally stabbed Kristofer King, 17, and wounded Patricia Wells. The neo-Nazis were infuriated that she had an African-American friend and that King and her son were openly gay, deputies said.

Ditullio is now serving a life sentence. The Sheriff's Office cracked down on the group and arrested several members. The Teak Street stabbings took place just a six-minute walk from the scene of Tuesday's arrests.

Nocco said those arrested Tuesday do not appear to be connected to the 2006 Neo-Nazi incident.

The sheriff described the Kiowa Drive home as a "cesspool" and said detectives could hardly walk through the place.

While searching the property, deputies said they found reams of American Nazi Family propaganda that outlined the rules, oaths and hierarchy of the group; 12 grams of methamphetamine; a small amount of unidentified opiates; drug paraphernalia such as needles, scales and spoons; hundreds of pages of miscellaneous bank account information and ID cards, including a military ID; and three handguns and a semiautomatic rifle.

Deputies also found a stolen vehicle on the property. They're still searching for another stolen car and motorcycle tied to the group.

The suspects allegedly stole identification cards from mailboxes, Nocco said, and then used those IDs to get credit cards. He said they likely traded the IDs and credit cards for drugs. The investigation is continuing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said this particular group — the American Nazi Family — is not on its radar.

There is no evidence the five committed hate crimes or spread Nazi propaganda, Nocco said. He said they have lengthy criminal records and some have been to prison. The sheriff noted that prisoners often join white supremacist gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood for protection.

"They know they're going to prison again at some point," Nocco said, "so they keep up the ideology."

Nowokunski and Price both face charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, among other charges. Baun and Zalneraitis face charges of possession of meth and drug paraphernalia. Crumbley and Price both had outstanding warrants for grand theft.

All five were booked into the Pasco County jail, but their bail was unavailable.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Laura Newberry at [email protected] Follow @LauraMNewberry

     
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