Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The FBI arrested three suspected members of a white supremacist group in relation to threats against a pro-gun rally in Virginia planned for next week, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Brian Lemley Jr., 33, of Elkton, Md., and William Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Md., were each charged with transporting and harboring aliens and conspiring to do so. Lemley was also charged with transporting a machine gun and disposing of a firearm and ammunition to an alien unlawfully present in the United States.
A third man, 27-year-old Patrik Mathews of Canada, was charged with being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He and Lemley were also charged with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony.
Matthews, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces was relieved of his duties in August and was under investigation for being a recruiter for the extremist group known as "The Base" of which all three men are suspected members.
The men were arrested near Baltimore and were believed to be heading toward Richmond, Va., where a rally against firearm restrictions in the state is set to be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The FBI had been surveilling the three men for months and said that Lemley and Matthews used firearms parts to make a functioning assault rifle in December. The also allegedly attempted to produce the hallucinogenic drug, DMT.
An affidavit states that Lemley and Matthews bought 1,650 rounds of ammunition and shot the rifle they made at a gun range in Maryland.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, banning possession of all weapons on Capitol grounds on Wednesday after receiving credible threats of violence at Monday's rally.
On Thursday, Richmond Chief Judge Joi Jeter Taylor ruled to uphold the ban after a challenge from rally organizer the Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America, who argued the declaration was "an unconstitutional restraint on rallygoers."
The state Senate passed three bills on Thursday that would require background checks on all firearms sales, limit handgun purchases to one per month and allow local governments to ban weapons from government buildings, parks and certain permitted events.