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The FBI has arrested the former leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen for his alleged participation in a swatting campaign targeting politicians, a historically black church, and journalists.
John Cameron Denton, 26, who also goes by the name “Rape,” was arrested Wednesday morning in his hometown of Montgomery, Texas. Federal prosecutors alleged that he participated in the harassment tactic known as “swatting,” which entails tricking emergency dispatchers into believing that someone is in mortal danger and requires immediate help from police.
If convicted, Denton faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.
According to a press release from the Justice Department, Denton assisted swatting efforts against three targets within the jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Virginia: Alfred Street Baptist Church, a historically black congregation, on Nov. 8, 2018; Old Dominion University, on Nov. 29, 2018; and finally, a Cabinet official who lives in Northern Virginia, on Jan. 27, 2019.
Denton also swatted an investigative journalist who worked for ProPublica, as well as the New York City office of ProPublica, in retaliation for an exposé about Atomwaffen that revealed Denton’s true identity.
Atomwaffen was founded in 2015 by a group of young white men who connected on the neo-Nazi internet forum Iron March. They’ve been linked to at least five murders in the U.S. and are known for their highly stylized propaganda videos showing members training at “hate camps” wearing their trademark “siege masks.” The group also espouses the accelerationist theory that advocates violence to speed up the collapse of society.
Denton unwittingly met with an undercover law enforcement officer and discussed his role in the swatting campaign — and admitted that he'd used a voice changer when he placed the swatting calls, according to the DOJ. He also said that getting “raided” for swatting could be beneficial to Atomwaffen’s image because “it would be viewed as a top-tier crime.”
One of Denton’s co-conspirators, 19-year-old John William Kirby Kelley, Vienna, Virginia, was also arrested last month by federal authorities for his alleged involvement in a multinational swatting and doxxing campaign in the U.S., Canada, and England. Kelley had ties to Atomwaffen, but the depth of his engagement with the group isn’t clear.
Last month, another alleged member of Atomwaffen, Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, 23, pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges in Texas. There’s currently a warrant out for the arrest of Kaleb Cole, who’s believed to be the current leader of Atomwaffen. Issued by King’s County, Washington, the warrant accuses him of possessing firearms despite being under an extreme risk protection order.