LAS CRUCES A national organization that identifies and monitors hate groups has found six such active organizations in New Mexico.

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center identified two Ku Klux Klan cells, two anti-Muslim groups, a skinhead group and an anti-Semitic group, according to the agency's 2013 report released this spring.

SPLC defines an organization as a hate group if it has "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people," according to its website. Websites that appear to belong to one angry person do not quality.

"Our purpose is simply to make people aware that these groups exist in larger numbers than they're aware," SPLC lead fellow Mark Potok said.


The racist skinhead group in northwest New Mexico is part of "a very violent racist skinhead formation," Potok said.

The organization has probably two dozen members spread across Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and New Mexico, he said.

They appeared around 2007 or 2008 as a spin-off of the Imperial Klans of America.

"They were a very tough skinhead group," Potok said.

One member, whom the Supreme White Alliance claims was a probationary member, was arrested in 2008 for a plot to murder more than 100 people across the country and assassinate then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, Potok said.

Dan Cowart pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison, while his co-conspirator, Paul Schlesselman, received 10 years.

Farmington Police Cpl. David Karst, who heads the department's gang unit, said there are a few small, concentrated cells of extremists in San Juan County but most are family groups.

"We try to keep track of hate groups," he said. "It's not like it used to be. ... I can't think of who's a member any more."

Silver City and statewide

There are two active Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan groups in New Mexico, including one in Silver City, according to the SPLC report.

The second does not have a specified location, Potok said.

The KKK is America's oldest and most infamous hate group, targeting blacks, immigrants and religious and other minorities.

The number of Loyal White Knights cells more than tripled in 2013, Potok said.

There were 16 across the country — and none in New Mexico — in 2012, Potok said. Last year, SPLC identified 54 cells.

"They grew kind of enormously last year," he said. "... Why they grew so quickly, I just can't explain."

Silver City Police Chief Ed Reynolds had not heard of the KKK group there but said he would look into it.

"That's a new one to me," he said.

11th Hour Remnant Messenger

Silicon Valley millionaire Vincent Bertollini founded 11th Hour Remnant Messenger in Idaho before spending time in federal prison and relocating to Albuquerque, Potok said.

Its Christian Identity theology, also practiced by the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, claims Jews are Satan's offspring and people of color are soulless beings created by God the same day as "the beasts of the field," Potok said.

"It's about as radical as it gets in terms of radical theology," he said.

Potok said SPLC doesn't know much about the group's activities in New Mexico, though the organization was "really quite infamous" in Idaho.

Berino and Fence Lake

The state has two branches of Aggressive Christianity, a New Mexico anti-Muslim group that has been likened to a cult.

The organization, with groups in Berino and Fence Lake, mentions the "bloody reality of Islam" and calls Obama a "sodomite-loving president."

"We list them because they're a violently anti-Muslim group; their language is violent," Potok said.

The group lost a $1 million lawsuit against a former member who claimed she was brainwashed, forced her to surrender custody of her children and divorce her husband and locked in a shed, according to National Geographic.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office didn't have the group in their records, though that doesn't necessarily mean deputies haven't encountered members, spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said.

Across the U.S.

Nationwide, more than 900 hate groups were active last year, down from more than 1,000 in 2011, according to SPLC.

Obama's election in 2008 and the economic recession led to "spectacular growth" in radical right groups, Potok wrote in his report.

But Obama's re-election in 2012 may have helped stem that tide, along with other factors, he said.

"The shrinking numbers of hate groups and, especially, antigovernment 'Patriot' groups appear to be the result of a host of factors, ranging from the co-opting of their issues by mainstream politicians, to an improving economy, to law enforcement crackdowns," he wrote.

Lindsey Anderson is a reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. She can be reached at 575-541-5462 and Follow her @l_m_anderson on Twitter.