Susan Walsh / AP
Justice Department on Thursday uncovered allegations of an outrageous conspiracy against far-right group leader Oath Keepers and 10 others who said they planned to disrupt the January 6 U.S. election process and threatened former vice president Mike Pence.
Federal officials detained Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in Texas on Thursday morning and also took Edward Valleji into custody in Arizona. Another nine people have already been charged with some crimes related to the siege of the Capitol last year.
The indictment of the Grand Jury in the District of Columbia is the most serious and large-scale case to emerge from a federal chapter riot investigation, and the first to include allegations of an outrageous conspiracy involving a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Just last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined an extensive investigation and pledged that “the actions we have taken so far will not be our last.”
The Department of Justice said the Oath Rangers were determined to stop the legal transfer of power, with two groups marching in military formations to the Capitol that day, and other personnel called “Rapid Reaction Forces” waiting in front of the DC to transport firearms and other weapons. Vallejo reportedly helped coordinate one of these rapid reaction teams.
The court documents that the defendants organized teams to use force to bring firearms to the Chapter, recruit members to attend and organize training, and bring paramilitary equipment, knives, batons and radio equipment to Washington.
Rhodes communicated with other leaders on January 6 through a chat group on the encrypted Signal app, according to court documents.
“Pence doesn’t do anything. As I predicted,” Rhodes wrote to the group that day. “I see Trump complaining. I don’t see his intention to do anything. So the Patriots are taking matters into their own hands. They’ve had enough.”
According to court records, Rhodes likened the actions of the Rangers of the oath that day to a “founding generation” that tarred and feathered tax collectors and “poured tea into the water.”
“Our ‘Lexington’ follows,” Rhodes wrote. “It’s coming.”
Authorities said the conspiracy continued after the uprising, which injured at least 140 police officers.
In the meantime, five officers who applied for duty on January 6 died.