TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An Arizona man is among four defendants accused of attempting “to intimidate journalists and activists with whom they disagreed.”
According to information from the U.S. Department of Justice, Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek conspired with three others associated with a neo-Nazi terrorism network to identify journalists and others they wanted to intimidate, focusing primarily on Jewish or non-white journalists.
The Department of Justice press release about the arrests follows:
ARRESTS IN FOUR STATES OF RACIALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENT EXTREMISTS TARGETING JOURNALISTS AND ACTIVISTS
Defendants Created and Coordinated Nationwide Delivery of Threatening Posters
WASHINGTON – Four racially motivated violent extremists from across the U.S. were arrested and charged today in U.S District Court in Seattle with a conspiracy to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists, the Department of Justice announced. Today’s arrests and searches by the FBI and local law enforcement are being coordinated by the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Seattle, Tampa, Houston, and Phoenix.
“These defendants from across the country allegedly conspired on the internet to intimidate journalists and activists with whom they disagreed,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “This is not how America works. The Department of Justice will not tolerate this type of behavior.”
“These defendants sought to spread fear and terror with threats delivered to the doorstep of those who are critical of their activities,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran for the Western District of Washington. “As Attorney General William Barr has made clear, rooting out anti-Semitic hate and threats of violence and vigorously prosecuting those responsible are top priorities for the Department of Justice.”
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and FBI-Tampa have been focused on identifying and eradicating the threat posed by the Atomwaffen Division both locally and nationally,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida. “Today’s arrests send a powerful message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate criminal conduct based on hateful ideology. We will continue to work with our partners here in the Middle District of Florida, and elsewhere, to devote our resources to investigate and prosecute those who aim to threaten and terrorize our communities.”
The defendants charged in the conspiracy include:
Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond, Washington;
Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas;
Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Florida, and
Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Arizona.
According to the criminal complaint, the defendants conspired via an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and others they wanted to intimidate. The group focused primarily on those who are Jewish or journalists of color. Defendants Cole and Shea created the posters, which included Nazi symbols, masked figures with guns and Molotov cocktails, and threatening language. The posters were delivered to Atomwaffen members electronically and the coconspirators printed and delivered or mailed the posters to journalists or activists the group was targeting. In the Seattle area, the posters were mailed to a TV journalist who had reported on Atomwaffen and to two individuals associated with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In Tampa, the group targeted a journalist,but delivered the poster to the wrong address. In Phoenix, the poster was delivered to a magazine journalist.
“Today’s announcement serves as a warning to anyone who intends to use violence as intimidation or coercion to further their ideology that the FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to protect Americans from domestic terrorism,” said Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn. “These nationwide arrests are the result of the robust partnerships among the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix and we appreciate their collective efforts.”
“The FBI recognizes all citizen's First Amendment-protected rights. However the subjects arrested today crossed the line from protected ideas and speech to action in order to intimidate and coerce individuals who they perceived as a threat to their ideology of hate,” said Raymond Duda, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Seattle.
“Today's takedown is proof the FBI in Tampa and our Joint Terrorism Task Force will work tirelessly to ensure communities are rid of hate inspired groups whose goal is to fuel intimidation and violence,” said FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson.
Shea will make his initial appearance on the complaint at the federal courthouse in Seattle at 2 p.m. today. Those arrested in other districts will make their appearances in federal court in those districts and will appear in Seattle on a future date.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Seattle, Tampa, Houston and Phoenix.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods with assistance from U.S. Attorneys Offices in the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona, and Central District of California.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.