FBI arrests three alleged members of neo-Nazi group who reportedly discussed gun rally

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Three men who allegedly are part of a neo-Nazi group and had discussed attending a pro-gun rally in Virginia next week were arrested and charged with a series of federal gun and immigration crimes Thursday, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.

Those arrested include two Americans -- Brian Mark Lemley and William Garfield Bilbrough IV -- and Patrik Mathews, a former reservist in the Canadian Army who prosecutors say entered the U.S. illegally after being kicked out of the service over his suspected ties to white supremacist groups.

Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough are all suspected members of the white supremacist group The Base, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in Maryland District Court.
 
"Within The Base's encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities, the organization's military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices," the complaint said.

Prosecutors allege that Mathews illegally entered the U.S. in August of last year and was harbored by Lemley and Bilbrough in Maryland until the three moved to Delaware in November.

Through an extensive investigation tracking the three men's activities, agents charged the men with an array of gun and immigration crimes. They are expected to make their first appearance in Maryland court Thursday afternoon.

While the complaint does not specifically allege the two had plans to carry out an attack at a pro-gun rights protest planned next week in Richmond, a law enforcement official confirmed to ABC News that the FBI arrested the three under suspicion they might travel to the rally "in anticipation of a possible race war," as first reported by The New York Times.

As documented in the criminal complaint, as recently as Jan. 11, the three were known to be in possession of at least one assault rifle, plate carriers to support body armor and at least 1,500 rounds of ammunition.

The arrests come just one day after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northan declared a state of emergency banning groups from possessing weapons at the State Capitol, where thousands of pro-gun rights protesters are expected to converge next Monday.

The FBI has frequently had to rely on gun charges and other lower-level crimes in its investigations to disrupt potential terror acts by members of domestic hate groups as there is currently no federal chargeable statute for "domestic terrorism" like there is for international terrorism.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Man dies after being zipped into suitcase, girlfriend arrested

Man dies after being zipped into suitcase, girlfriend arrestedOrange County Sheriff's Office(WINTER PARK, Fla.) -- A woman in Florida has been arrested in the death of her boyfriend after she allegedly zipped him into a suitcase and left him there for hours, authorities said.

Sarah Boone, 42, called authorities Monday afternoon to report that her boyfriend, 42-year-old Jorge Torres Jr., was dead at her Winter Park home, according to the arrest affidavit. Boone said they were playing hide-and-seek when the couple "jokingly thought it would be funny if Jorge got in the suitcase," and Boone zipped him inside.

Boone said they had been drinking alcohol that night, the affidavit said. She said she then "went upstairs and passed out in her bed."

Boone said she woke up around 11 a.m. when her phone rang multiple times, the affidavit said.

When Boone went downstairs and didn't see her boyfriend anywhere, she "realized that he was possibly still inside the suitcase," the affidavit said. Boone unzipped the suitcase and found Torres unresponsive and not breathing.

When deputies responded to her 911 call, Torres was found lying by the front door near a blue suitcase, the affidavit said. He had a small laceration on his lip and apparent bruising around his eye. Torres was declared dead around 1 p.m.

As authorities investigated, they recovered video from Boone's phone in which Torres was repeatedly yelling out Boone's name, the affidavit said.

Torres was seen on the video pushing on the suitcase, trying to escape, according to the affidavit.

In the video, according to the affidavit, Boone said to Torres, "For everything you've done to me," then laughed and said, "F--- you. Stupid."

Torres repeatedly called out his girlfriend's name, and told her, 'I can't f------ breathe, seriously," the video showed, according to the affidavit. When Torres repeatedly told Boone he couldn't breathe, Boone replied, "That's what I feel like when you cheat on me ... You should probably shut the f--- up."

Arrested: Sarah Boone, 42, for Second Degree Murder in the death of 42-year-old Jorge Torres Jr., who died after Boone zipped him into a suitcase, and didn’t return for hours. pic.twitter.com/JCHWG7WNkp

— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) February 26, 2020

Bonne was booked on Wednesday for second-degree murder. She does not yet have an attorney or a court date.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.