The race war, he believed, was coming. So Florida white supremacist leader Marcus Faella instructed his followers over the past two years to prepare for it.
The preparations, according to law enforcement documents made public this week, included stockpiling weapons, experimenting with the creation of ricin and plotting some sort of “disturbance” on Orlando City Hall.
In a series of arrests that began on Friday, a joint terrorism task force that included the FBI and local police moved in on the Florida chapter of the white supremacist organization American Front.
They arrested Faella, his wife Patti Faella and eight other people on suspicion of a number of offenses, including hate crimes and training a paramilitary group. Prosecutors with the Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday they were working on putting together felony charges for the 10 members.
An affidavit for Faella’s arrest said investigators were working with an informant in the organization since mid 2010. Agent Kelly Boaz, an investigator with the state attorney’s office, wrote that the unnamed informant started as an outsider but eventually became a “patched” or recognized member of American Front.
In the months since, the informant allegedly documented Faella, 39, becoming increasingly erratic and ordering his followers to commit crimes on the group’s behalf. The informant took secret photos and videos of Faella teaching certain members, including convicted felons, to shoot guns and prepare for a race war in a compound fortified with railroad timbers and cement pilings that he established on his property in Saint Cloud, Fla.
In mid February, investigators learned the group’s preparations were growing.
“Faella started planning to cause a disturbance at City Hall in Orlando, Florida,” the affidavit said. “Faella advised that the AF had been dormant too long and wanted to cause a disturbance so the media would report on it and bring new members to the AF.”
The document said Faella had been experimenting with making ricin, a poison, though it’s not clear whether he was successful in that effort.
This spring, according to the document, Faella learned that anarchists and a group of non-racist skinheads were planning to participate in May Day activities in Florida, so he wanted to plan an attack on the groups.
The informant told investigators that Faella and his followers began to fashion sign holders that could somehow be used to conceal weapons. They planned to travel to the May Day activities and apparently pose as protestors.
During the preparations for the event, however, Faella began to become suspicious of the informant. At an April 28 gathering at a movie theater in Melbourne, Fla., Faella told the informant and other members of the group to hand over their cell phones.
“If I find out any of you are informants I will f***ing kill you,” Faella said, according to the affidavit. The informant was able to remove a memory card from the phone before handing it over. But it was too late. The informant got nervous and ran away.
The affidavit said the informant called police and gave them a statement. It said the person was now willing to testify.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, American Front has been around since 1987 but was thought to be hobbled since the death of the group’s California leader in 2011.
However, the affidavit shows that the group appeared to be growing in recent months, including a big expansion by the group’s Oregon chapter, which the informant said had been doing many of the same things as the Florida group.
The other members of the Florida chapter arrested since Friday are Dustin Perry, Diane Stevens, Christopher Brooks, Richard Stockdale, Jennifer McGowan, Mark McGowan, Paul Jackson and Kent McLellan.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com