3 alleged white supremacists arrested ahead of pro-gun rally in U.S. Virginia

2020-01-17 Xinhua Editor:Cheng Zizhuo

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested three alleged white supremacists on charges ranging from illegal transport of a machine gun to harboring aliens days before a pro-gun rally in eastern U.S. state of Virginia, local media reported Thursday.

The detainees, including Patrik Jordan Mathews, a 27-year-old Canadian national who entered the United States illegally last summer, are suspected members of The Base, which authorities describe as a "racially motivated violent extremist group," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland.

The other two men are Brian Mark Lemley Jr. aged 33 and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19. Both are Americans from eastern U.S. state of Maryland.

The arrest came just after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned firearms on the Capitol grounds in Richmond in anticipation of the gun rights demonstration next week.

"We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies that there are groups with malicious plans for the rally that is planned for Monday," Northam said Wednesday.

In January, Lemley and Mathews "purchased approximately 1,650 rounds of 5.56 mm and 6.5 mm ammunition; traveled from Delaware to a gun range in Maryland, where they shot the assault rifle; and retrieved plate carriers (to support body armor) and at least some of the purchased ammunition from Lemley's prior residence in Maryland," a NPR report quoted the U.S. Attorney's Office as saying.

Lemley and Mathews could each face a maximum of 10 years in prison if they're convicted of "transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony offense," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

In addition, both Lemley and Bilbrough could face a maximum sentence of five years for allegedly transporting and harboring Mathews.

The Base's members use encrypted chat rooms to discuss their supremacist agenda, the FBI said.

According to court documents, the extremists frequently discuss topics such as "recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization's military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices."

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