The FBI said it thwarted what it called a conspiracy to forcibly overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Prosecutors are expected to discuss the alleged conspiracy later Thursday.
The alleged conspiracy involved contacting members of a militia in Michigan, according to a federal affidavit filed Thursday.
The court records also allege the conspirators twice monitored Whitmer’s vacation home and discussed the kidnapping to a remote location in Wisconsin for treason before the November 3rd election.
“Several members spoke of murdering ̵
The affidavit was filed hours after a team of FBI agents raided a house in Hartland Township on Wednesday and is amid an ongoing investigation into the death of a Metro Detroit man killed in a shootout with FBI agents.
The FBI-described plot involved at least six people, including 24-year-old Ty Garbin, whose home was searched by agents in Hartland Township late Wednesday.
The affidavit filed in federal court contains a possible reason the six men were charged with conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer. Those identified by name include:
- Adam Fox
- Barry Croft
- Caleb Franks
- Daniel Harris
- Brandon Caserta
The ages and hometowns for all six men were not immediately available.
The investigation dates back to early 2020 when the FBI learned through social media that individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of several state governments and law enforcement agencies.
In June, Croft, Fox, and 13 others from several states met in Dublin, Ohio, near Columbus, according to the government.
In attendance was a confidential source from the FBI who recorded the meetings. The source was paid for at $ 8,600.
“The group talked about creating a society that followed the US Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the FBI agent wrote.
“They discussed different ways to achieve this goal, from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members spoke about state governments they believed to be violating the U.S. Constitution, including the Michigan government and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“As part of this recruiting effort, Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group,” added the agent.
The militia group is not identified in court records, but members meet regularly in remote areas of the state to train firearms and conduct tactical exercises.
The FBI was tracking the militia back in March after a local police department learned that members were trying to get addresses from local law enforcement officers, the FBI agent wrote.
“At that time, the FBI interviewed a member of the militia group who was concerned about the group’s plans to target and kill police officers and that person agreed to become a (confidential source),” the agent wrote
In late June, Fox posted a video on Facebook complaining about the state’s judicial system and COVID-19 restrictions on gyms operated in Michigan.
“Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as” that tyrant b —- “and said,” I don’t know guys, we have to do something, “according to the court’s affidavit.” You connect with me through our other location system and give give me some ideas of what we can do. “
Whitmer’s office did not respond immediately Thursday morning.
Michigan attorney Dana Nessel will team up with state police, FBI officers, and US attorneys from Detroit and Grand Rapids at 1:00 p.m. Thursday to release “major operation details” and criminal charges.
Criminal proceedings will begin after months of travel and business restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The lockdown was a lightning rod for anti-government extremists in this country, and Governor Whitmer was at the forefront of its goals,” said Seamus Hughes, associate director of the George Washington University extremism program.
In the past few weeks, the Michigan state governor’s residence has received security improvements, including the construction of a new perimeter fence.
The “perimeter security and other security improvements” were planned last year, said Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown in early September. They were supposed to start in the spring but have been postponed until recently because of the pandemic, she said.
The cost of the “maintenance” projects at the Lansing residence, recommended by the Michigan State Police and the State Department of Technology, Management and Budget, was approximately $ 1.1 million, according to Brown.
“In practice, we are constantly reviewing the security logs and adjusting them as necessary,” said Shanon Banner, spokeswoman for Michigan State Police, in early September. “We do not comment on specific threats against the governor, nor do we provide any information about security measures.”
Visit www.detroitnews.com to learn more about this developing story.
The authors Craig Mauger and Christine Ferretti contributed to this.
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