Authorities say 39 white supremacist gang members have been arrested in a gun and drug-trafficking operation.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa announced the arrests Thursday. Investigators say the suspects are connected to the Unforgiven and United Aryan Brotherhood gangs.
Authorities say the operation has removed about 100 firearms from the streets. Many arrested with guns are felons, which means they face mandatory minimum prison sentences.
"We subscribe to the Al Capone theory. Sometimes the best crime we can charge them with is the felon in possession because they are not supposed to have a gun and they have a gun," said Christopher Murray, chief of the violent crimes and narcotics department in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. "But we do that with knowledge that in many cases they've committed many other offenses."
Authorities also seized a few pounds of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine along with pipe bombs and a rocket launcher. If convicted the alleged gang members could face anywhere from 2 years to life in prison.
The investigation was carried out by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.