Feb. 20 (UPI) — Federal agents have charged nine so-called Oath Keepers with conspiracy, accusing them of spending months planning an attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt the certification of President Joe Biden‘s election win.
The Justice Department leveled charges at six more members of the Oath Keepers. They charged three others earlier in their investigation.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the Oath Keepers on its website as “a large and loosely organized anti-government extremist group” that actively recruits active and former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel.
Prosecutors said the nine defendants worked together for months before the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol to coordinate plans, including shared transportation to Washington, D.C., and gathering beforehand in the lobby of a Virginia hotel. Some of the members also allegedly discussed keeping a cache of weaponry outside the city.
Authorities arrested Thomas Caldwell, 65, described as a leader of the group, and members Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl in January. The three allegedly worked to recruit other like-minded individuals to participate in the insurrection.
Among the newly charged were siblings Graydon Young and Laura Steele, who allegedly applied to join the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers in the weeks before the Capitol attack. And Kelly Meggs, also in Florida, allegedly sent private Facebook messages citing former President Donald Trump as his inspiration for taking part in the insurrection.
“He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your [expletive]!!” he wrote.
Kelly Meggs’ wife, Connie Meggs, also was charged with conspiracy.
Married couple Bennie Parker and Sandra Parker, both of Ohio, allegedly coordinated with Watkins regarding weapons, clothing and lodging ahead of their trip to Washington, D.C., and kept in touch with her during the attack.
Authorities have arrested and charged more than 200 people for alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack, which left five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, dead. Another two police officers present at the Capitol during the attack died of suicide in the days following.