April 7 (UPI) -- A 25-year-old leader of a neo-Nazi group pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes and conspiracy charges on Wednesday for orchestrating a campaign to threaten journalists and advocates who worked to expose anti-Semitism.
Cameron Shea of Redmond, Wash., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit three offenses against the United States and one count of interfering with a federally protected activity because of religion, the Justice Department said in a release.
Shea, a leader of the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division group, was arrested along with three other members in February 2020 for threatening Jewish journalists and advocates of color by either mailing or delivering to their homes posters emblazoned with Nazi symbols, guns, molotov cocktails and threatening messages.
Prosecutors said posters were delivered to victims in Tampa, Seattle and Phoenix.
Shea mailed several of the posters himself, the Justice Department said, including one to a Anti-Defamation League official that warned "Our patience has its limits ... You have been visited by your local Nazis" while depicting a Grime Reaper character holding a molotov cocktail.
According to the complaint against Shea, prosecutors said he invited coconspirators to his chat group in November 2019 to coordinate the threats as a nationwide campaign.
"We're coordinating this nationwide operation called Operation Erste Saule, named after the first pillar of stat[e] power, AKA the media," Shea told the coconspirators in the chat group, according to the complaint. "We will be postering journalists houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them."
The goal, he said, was to erode the legitimacy of the media "by showing people that they have names and addresses," with hopes it would embolden others to act similarly.
Shea coordinate address collection, poster creation and execution, prosecutors said, adding he was the one who planned for the operation to be conducted on the same night nationwide as a show of force to catch the members of the media off guard.
The operation was conducted on Jan. 25, 2020.
Days later on Jan. 29, the FBI was contacted by a Seattle reporter who had reported on the Atomwaffen Division and an employee of the ADL as they had both received posters sent by Shea.
Co-defendants Ashley Parker-Dipeppe and Johnny Roman Garza previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for their involvement while Kaleb Cole pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Prosecutors said Parker-Dipeppe affixed the posters to what he believed was the Tampa residence of a reporter while Garza left a poster at the Phoenix residence of a member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists that read "Your actions have consequences" and included the person's name and address.
The ADL, which fights anti-Semitism, has said Atomwaffen Division became active in 2016 and is a small neo-Nazi group whose members are preparing for a race war to fight against the displacement of White people.