Skinhead's arrest nets weapons, drugs

Elk Grove Times/March 4, 2004
By Patrick Corcoran

A Hoffman Estates man belonging to one of the nation's most violent and notorious neo-Nazi skinhead groups was arrested in January in a Schaumburg hotel room during a federal weapons and drugs sting.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested Bulent "Billy" B. Arseven, 21, of 460 Aberdeen St., as well as two other Hoffman Estates men -- Frankie C. Pizzo, 21, of 640 Almond Lane; and Jeremy D. Bellen, 20, of 680 Ash Road -- as part of an alleged plot to purchase automatic weapons and sell cocaine. Arseven faces weapons and drug charges; Pizzo and Bellen, drug charges.

The four-month cooperative investigation involved the ATF, the Hoffman Estates Police Department's tactical unit and West Chicago Police Department.

Arseven was arrested at 2:15 p.m. Jan. 7 by undercover ATF agents and Hoffman Estates police at the Comfort Suites, 1100 E. Higgins Road, Schaumburg, after he allegedly attempted to purchase guns and fully automatic weapons from an undercover ATF officer using $750 and an unknown quantity of cocaine. The weapons involved in the sale were a fully automatic Intertec Tec-9, a 9 mm fully automatic machine pistol and several handguns.

He faces two federal charges: possession of a machine gun and delivery of a controlled substance. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up 40 years in prison.

Police officials have not linked the weapons buy to a potential violent event, said Thomas Ahern, an ATF special agent.

"He (Arseven) had boasted that he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, but we don't know of any planned incident that he intended to carry out. Something like this leads you to speculate, though, on what someone would do with these fully automatic handguns," he said.

The investigation, which began in November 2003, is typical of the kind of work performed by ATF agents in and around Chicago, Ahern said.

"He trafficked in cocaine and was prepared to pay for the guns with a combination of cash and drugs. The ATF is committed to ridding society of those individuals who will use firearms to further their narcotics business or commit acts of violence," he said.

Arseven was released on bond from federal custody on Jan. 30, but is confined to his home. He is required to wear an electronic monitoring device at all times. His trial date in federal court has not been set.

Two of the three men are active gang members, according to Hoffman Estates police reports.

Arseven is an self-admitted member of the Arizona Hammerskins. When police raided his home on Aberdeen, they found a large amount of 9 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition, Nazi paraphernalia and white supremacist literature. The tattoos adorning his arms, chest and stomach confirm his gang affiliation, police said. They include a Maltese cross, a numerical reference to Adolf Hitler, and the words "honor" and "pride."

One of the men arrested with Arseven, Pizzo, is an active member of the Two-Two Boys, a gang based in Cicero. It has a small number of members in Hoffman Estates, law enforcement officials say.

At about the same time Arseven was being arrested, so was Pizzo. A native of West Chicago, Pizzo was arrested at his home at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 7, where he is originally from, and is charged with felony delivery of a controlled substance. His next court date has not been set.

Arseven allegedly had Pizzo and Bellen store narcotics at their homes, Ahern said.

Bellen was arrested a short time later, at 4 p.m. Jan. 7, at his home where Hoffman Estates tactical officers reportedly discovered 19 grams of cocaine, a small amount of marijuana and packaging material. Bellen is charged with possession of marijuana, felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance. His next court date is March 9.

Arseven's and Bellen's arrests were not publicized by local police, but Pizzo's arrest was referenced on the police blotter.

Arseven's link to white supremacists troubles watchdog groups.

Hammerskin Nation is considered the nation's most organized and feared skinhead group, said officials with the Anti-Defamation League, which combats racism and anti-Semitism.

Members of the white supremacist organization have been tied to hate crimes in Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts and California over the last 10 years, the ADL said.

The group was formed near Dallas in the late 1980s and now has chapters in countries across the world.

Rich Hirschhaut, Chicago regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the implications of the arrests are alarming.

"It appears this ATF investigation may have very well interrupted a conspiracy involving a toxic combination of drugs, an ideology of hate and the lethal weapons needed to act on that ideology," he said.

Hirschhaut said people at the ADL had no knowledge of the arrests, but would investigate the incident.

Devin Burghart, a spokesman for the Center for New Community, a Chicago faith-based group which promotes racial equality and monitors hate groups, said some Hammerskins in this region are extraordinarily dangerous.

"One subgroup that is strongest in northern Indiana and Minnesota was kicked out of the larger group because they were deemed too violent and prone to criminal activity. The so-called Outlaw Hammerskins in these areas have caused activity in Chicago and the suburbs as well, but it's not improbable that the regular Hammerskins could be involved in something like this," Burghart said.

The Center for New Community's campaigns include, "Turn it Down," a boycott of Chicago and suburban record stores that sell white power music.

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