ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — The FBI says that 10 members of a white supremacist group were preparing for a race war.
The American Front, led by Marcus Faella, saw the group as “protectors of the white race” and were planning to kill Jews and minorities in the “inevitable” race war, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. The Sentinel reports that the group also looked to manufacture ricin, a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Last Friday, authorities arrested 39-year-old Marcus Faella, his wife, 36-year-old Patricia Faella, 29-year old Mark McGowan, his wife, 25-year-old Jennifer McGowan, 28-year-old Diane Stevens, 25-year-old Paul Jackson and 22-year-old Kent McLellan. On Monday, the FBI arrested three more members in 27-year-old Christopher Brooks, 21-year-old Dustin Perry and 23-year-old Richard Stockdale.
All have been charged with paramilitary training, attempt to shoot into an occupied dwelling and evidence of prejudices while committing offense, a first-degree felony. The arrests came during an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force operation.
It is a felony in Florida to participate in paramilitary training for use “in furtherance of, a civil disorder within the United States.” The “prejudices” charge falls under Florida’s hate crimes law.
Bond for each was set at more than $500,000. Only Marcus and Patricia Faella had bonded out Monday afternoon.
It was not immediately known if they had attorneys.
Florida Ninth Circuit State Attorney Lawson Lamar said in a statement that his office will review the investigation and “will file the appropriate criminal charges.”
“This investigation is a result of our on-going partnership with local law enforcement and federal agencies in a concentrated effort to stamp out hate crime in our community,” Lamar said.
Listed residences for the 10 people in custody are scattered around Osceola and Brevard Counties, though most of the alleged activity is believed to center on a compound maintained in St. Cloud, Fla. where Marcus Faella and his wife Patricia live.
American Front lists a St. Cloud address as its place of business and Lynn Haven, Fla., post office box as its mailing address. It says the purpose for which the corporation is organized is “Religious and cultural preservation of the European peoples.” It goes on to say the group is “organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational and scientific purposes.”
American Front has been identified by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League as a hate group.
The ADL lists American Front under its “extremism in America” category and identifies its former leader, David Lynch, as “an active skinhead since the mid-1980s.” It says he became involved with the group while living inFlorida in the early 1990s. Lynch was killed in California last year and Marcus Faella is said to have assumed his leadership role.
Messages left at the listed number for American Front were not immediately returned.
The ADL has tracked American Front in Florida for a number of years, as well as many of its members. It also has assisted police in investigations, including a 2010 incident in which Florida American Front members were involved with a synagogue vandalism spree in Virginia.
“These arrests are an excellent example of how law enforcement agencies, working together, can help protect our communities from hate-motivated violence and terrorism,” ADL Florida Regional Director Andrew Rosenkranz said in a statement. “Their proactive work stopped potential violent activity before it could happen.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)