Three members of the neo-Nazi terror group The Base stockpiled over a thousand rounds of ammunition, illegally manufactured an assault rifle, and attempted to make the hallucinogenic drug DMT, newly released court documents allege.
The New York Times first reported that Patrik Mathews, a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist, was among the three arrested by the FBI. Mathews went missing last summer after a Winnipeg Free Press investigation outed him as a recruiter for The Base in Canada and was believed to have entered the U.S. illegally last summer. VICE exclusively reported in December that Mathews was being harboured by The Base.
The arrests illustrate the threat of domestic terror groups in the U.S. and the commitment of federal authorities to cracking down on what is becoming a national security nightmare ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November. On Wednesday, Virginia declared a state of emergency because authorities believed “armed militia groups plan to storm the capitol” ahead of a guns rights rally this weekend.
The FBI arrested Mathews, Brian M. Lemley Jr., 33, and William G. Bilbrough IV, 19, on Thursday, according to a Department of Justice statement. Mathews has been charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony and being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition, while Lemley and Bilbrough are facing charges of transporting and harbouring aliens and conspiring to do so. Lemley also faces a charge of transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States.
An FBI affidavit supporting the criminal complaint against Lemley says that Mathews crossed over the border on August 19 and Lemley and Bilbrough “conspired to transport and harbour Mathews in order to conceal Mathews’ unlawful presence in the United States.”
According to the affidavit, the pair picked Mathews up in Michigan and then drove 600 miles back to Maryland, where Lemley eventually rented an apartment for him and Mathews. In this apartment, Lemley and Mathews ordered weapon parts and constructed a “functioning assault rifle.” Lemley allegedly told Mathews that the rifle ”would have to be cached though because that‘s an ATF fucking nightmare” and “oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun.”
Lemley and Mathews allegedly took the weapon to a shooting range the FBI and ATF were staking out and viewed Lemley and Mathews firing the fully automatic rifle.
The trio also allegedly discussed making DMT and attempted to manufacture the drug. Early this year, according to the statement, Lemley purchased over 1,500 rounds for the rifle and gave it to Mathews.
The crew face lengthy sentences if they are found guilty, with some of their alleged crimes coming with maximum sentences of 10 years.
The Base is an international neo-Nazi terror network with active cells around the world and affiliations to the domestic hate group Atomwaffen Division, which has been linked to several murders in the U.S.
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While in the U.S., Mathews continued to be active in The Base training other members in a paramilitary training camp held in Georgia this past fall, according to VICE sources.
Joshua Fisher-Birch, a research analyst for the Counter Extremism Project, said that the arrest of The Base members was “welcome news, especially considering that it’s reported that they were armed and discussing attending upcoming pro-firearms protests in Virginia.”
“This is the perfect environment for the group to either attempt to recruit, or to try to encourage and spread disorder,” said Fisher-Birch. “Mathews has been missing for almost five months, which is ample time to pass on skills and training to his fellow neo-Nazis. The Base has repeatedly stated their support for extreme violence and terrorism. Measures taken to prevent them from organizing, training, and arming, are essential for public safety.”
Mathews was dismissed by the military after his connection to The Base was made public. During his time with the Canadian Forces he was provided with “rudimentary explosives training.” A prior VICE investigation into the Base showed that the group shared an online library that featured manuals on how to make bombs and chemical weapons.
Read the criminal complaints against Brian M. Lemley Jr, William G. Bilbrough IV, and Patrik Mathews below.