Wanted doomsday prepper surrendered in exchange for dry shoes and cheeseburgers, will plead guilty

Martin Howard Winters sold explosives to under cover FBI agents and revealed plans to violently lure and kill federal agents to his Florida home. Despite tough talk, the 55-year-old surrendered in exchange for some cheeseburgers.
By Matt Bradwell  |  Updated Aug. 25, 2014 at 6:58 PM
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TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Florida man charged with illegally stockpiling weapons in hopes of attacking the United States government and staying ready for a Revelations-style Armageddon will plead guilty to federal charges.

An undercover FBI agent infiltrated Florida-based extremist group "the River Otter Preppers" and discovered the group was stock piling weapons for a violent "last stand" against federal law enforcement agents in anticipation of their interpretation of the end of the world as described in the Christian New Testament.

The undercover agent even purchased illegal explosives from suspected leader Martin Howard Winters and was able to coax the would-be domestic terrorist into taking the device apart and explaining how it worked.

Winters also specifically showed the undercover agent maps with battle plans that included burying food in barrels and blowing up his own house, as well as a catalog of items meant for building booby traps to fire bullets and other shrapnel at federal agents. If that didn't work, Winters had plans to use wire and fish hooks to entangle authorities, allowing him to shoot them while they were distracted.

Winters had illegally purchased at least 30 semi-automatic rifles from straw buyers and buried them along with deadly traps around his Tampa-area property.

A federal grand jury issued indictments to Winters and five other River Otter Preppers for designing and building destructive devices without a permit and additional charges. Upon attempting to arrest Winters, the would-be terrorist fled, launching a man hunt that ended when the tough-talker surrendered in exchange for dry shoes, Gatorade and some cheeseburgers.

"I think they took the whole context of him being prepared and twisted it," one of Rivers' daughters rationalized to local reporters, adding that he is not the leader of the River Otter Preppers and has never spoken of violence toward government agents. They were so sure of their father's innocence, they staged a well-attended rally where hundreds of supporters prayed for Winters' safe return.

"That's not our father, he's not a violent person," said another of Winters' daughters.

But despite their hopes to the contrary, by Winters' own admission, that is exactly who he is and his daughter's prayers for a homecoming will go unanswered.

"This is not just talk," Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson said upon denying the 55-year-old grandfather bail in June.

"There were, in fact, destructive devices found and sold."

Winters will plead guilty to illegally designing and owning destructive devices and reveal the location of at least 30 semiautomatic rifles illegally purchased from straw buyers.

He faces up to 10 years in prison.

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