Pete Williams and Erik Ortiz, NBC News, January 16, 2020
Three suspected members of a white supremacist group face federal charges after the FBI apprehended them days before a gun rights rally in Virginia’s capital next week, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
The suspects are allegedly part of a fringe group known as The Base, and law enforcement officials say the timing of their arrests is related to the event in Richmond, which the men planned to attend. On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency after receiving “credible intelligence” that armed militias and hate groups are expected to be present — increasing the potential for civil unrest at a gathering expected to draw thousands.
Law enforcement officials say the men have been under FBI surveillance for months, and agents made their move since Monday is also a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Two of the suspects — Brian Lemley, Jr., 33, of Elkton, Maryland, and Newark, Delaware; and William Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Maryland — were charged with transporting and harboring aliens and conspiring to do so, according to the complaint. In addition, Lemley was charged with transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States.
That person was identified as Canadian national Patrik Mathews, 27, allegedly a main recruiter for The Base. He was charged with being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.