HOUSTON — Two men from Montgomery, Texas with alleged ties to a white supremacist group were arrested as part of a 'swatting' conspiracy, the FBI announced Wednesday morning.
26-year-old John Cameron Denton is allegedly a former leader of the Atomwaffen Division in Texas, according to the FBI. Denton was arrested Wednesday morning in Montgomery.
Also arrested was 24-year-old Kaleb Cole. Arrest records show Cole was pulled over for speeding in the town of Post, Texas in November 2019, and officers found assault-style weapons and ammo in the vehicle.
Authorities in Washington state issued arrest warrants for Cole about a month after that traffic stop.
According to prosecutors in federal court Wednesday, both Denton and Cole lived at the home in Montgomery and were part of the same organization.
Wednesday, federal investigators searched that home and took out several large bags possibly containing evidence, including a desktop computer.
Denton and Cole's arrests were part of a multi-state effort leading to a total of five people arrested in relation to this hate group.
The FBI said the arrest at this home began around 4 a.m. Neighbors describe hearing several bangs and police calling for people inside the home to come out.
Neighbors also said they saw a Nazi flag inside the home during the execution of the warrant.
Ethan Martin, a neighbor, said there were usually four or five people at the home at a given time, and that he saw one wearing a "Nazi-Germany style uniform cap" on his head at one point.
"It’s a little weird knowing that’s right next door to you," said Martin. "It's a little unnerving."
The Anti-Defamation League calls the Atomwaffen Divison a "small neo-Nazi group whose members are preparing for a race war to combat what they consider the cultural and racial displacement of the white race."
According to the ADL, in December 2017, one of AWD’s leaders, John Cameron Denton (aka Vincent Snyder), laid out the group’s plans on their Siege Culture website: “Our responsibility right now is resistance, anything that happens after that we’ll simply adapt to it and work with what we have.”
According to court documents, from November 2018 to at least April 2019, Denton and several co-conspirators, including John William Kirby Kelley, allegedly conspired together to conduct “swatting” calls.
Swatting is a harassment tactic that involves deceiving dispatchers into believing that people are in imminent danger of death or bodily harm and causing the dispatchers to send police and emergency services to an unwitting third party’s address.
According to court documents, Denton allegedly participated in a conspiracy that conducted three swatting calls that occurred in the Eastern District of Virginia: a Cabinet official living in Northern Virginia on Jan. 27, 2019; Old Dominion University on Nov. 29, 2018; and Alfred Street Baptist Church on Nov. 3, 2018, the FBI said.
Additionally, Denton allegedly chose at least two other targets to “swat:" the New York City office of ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism; and an investigative journalist that produced materials for ProPublica, according to court documents.
Court documents showed that both Houston Police and the Harris County Sheriff's Office were two agencies involved in the conspiracy group's swatting efforts.
Denton allegedly chose the two targets because he was furious with ProPublica and the investigative journalist for publishing his true identity and discussing his role in Atomwaffen Division, court documents state.
During the investigation, Denton unknowingly met with an undercover law enforcement officer and allegedly told the undercover officer about his role in the swatting conspiracy.
Denton allegedly stated that he used a voice changer when he made swatting calls, and allegedly admitted that he swatted the offices of ProPublica and the investigative journalist, court documents state. He also allegedly stated that it would be good if he was “raided” for the swatting because it would be viewed as a top tier crime, and he felt that his arrest could benefit Atomwaffen Division.
Denton is charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, interstate threats to injure. If convicted, he and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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