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FBI arrests 3 white supremacists ahead of pro-gun rally

A law enforcement official says the men were believed to be planning to attend a pro-gun rally planned for Monday in Richmond.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — FBI agents have arrested a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two other men who are linked to a violent white supremacist group. The men were believed to be heading to a pro-gun rally next week in Virginia's capital. 

A Justice Department news release says the three men are members of The Base. They were arrested Thursday on federal charges in a criminal complaint unsealed in Maryland. 

Brian Mark Lemley, Jr., 33, of Elkton, Md., and Newark, Del., and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Md., were charged with transporting and harboring aliens and conspiring to do so.

Canadian national Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, currently of Newark, Del., and Lemley were also charged with transporting a machine gun, disposing of a firearm, and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the U.S., officials said.

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The group's members discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethnostate, 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 in The Base's encrypted chat rooms, the federal complaint alleges.

Lemley, according to authorities, previously served as a Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army, and as of August 2019, Mathews, a Canadian citizen in the U.S. illegally, was a combat engineer in the Canadian Army Reserve.

Credit: Royal Canadian Mounted Police via AP
This undated photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shows Patrik Mathews. FBI agents on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, arrested the former Canadian Armed Forces reservist and two other men who are linked to a violent white supremacist group and were believed to be heading to a pro-gun rally next week in Virginia’s capital.

The complaint alleges that on Aug. 19, Mathews unlawfully crossed from Canada into the U.S. near the Manitoba-Minnesota border and that on Aug. 30, Lemley and Bilbrough allegedly drove from Maryland to Michigan in order to pick up Mathews. All three men returned to Maryland on Aug. 31, the complaint alleges.

The three men drove from Virginia to the Eastern Shore of Maryland on Nov. 3, where Bilbrough lived, the complaint alleges. Lemley and Mathews then continued to the area of Elkton, Md., where Lemley got a motel room for Mathews and the following day, he drove Mathews to Delaware, where Lemley rented an apartment, according to the complaint. The two men have lived there since that time, the complaint alleges.

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In December 2019, the affidavit alleges that Lemley and Mathews used an upper receiver Lemley ordered, along with other firearms parts, to make a functioning assault rifle. 

The three men allegedly tried to make a controlled substance at Lemley and Mathews’s apartment, according to the affidavit.

The three men then talked about The Base’s activities and spoke about other members of the organization. Mathews also allegedly showed the assault rifle to Bilbrough, who examined the assault rifle and returned it to Mathews, according to the affidavit.

Lemley and Mathews bought nearly 1,650 rounds of 5.56 mm and 6.5 mm ammunition in January, 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 previous home in Maryland, according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Bilbrough faces 25 years of prison on the federal charges, Lemley faces up to 40 years in prison on various federal charges and Mathews faces up to 20 years -- 10 years of which include charges of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to the affidavit.

A law enforcement official says the men were believed to be planning to attend a pro-gun rally planned for Monday in Richmond. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.

The trio faces a federal district court judge Thursday afternoon in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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