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Oath Keepers leader, 10 others indicted for seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack

By Doug Cunningham
Oath Keepers leader, 10 others indicted for seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on  January 5 in advance of the one year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pool Photo by Carolyn Kaster/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A District of Columbia federal grand jury indicted Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III and 10 others on charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, and Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, were arrested Thursday in Little Elm, Texas, and Phoenix, according to a Department of Justice press release.

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According to the indictment, the defendants conspired by organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.

The indictment further alleges the Oath Keepers conspired by recruiting members and affiliates to participate in the conspiracy; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies -- including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment -- to the Capitol grounds.

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The indictment also says the defendants breached and attempted to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote.

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Others named in the indictment include nine previously charged defendants: Thomas Caldwell, 67, of Berryville, Va.; Joseph Hackett, 51, of Sarasota, Fla.; Kenneth Harrelson, 41, of Titusville, Fla.; Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Ala.; Kelly Meggs, 52, of Dunnellon, Fla.; Roberto Minuta, 37, of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel, 44, of Punta Gorda, Fla.; Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Ga.; and Jessica Watkins, 39, of Woodstock, Ohio.

In addition to the earlier charges filed against them, they now face additional counts for seditious conspiracy and other offenses.

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According to the Justice Department, "The superseding indictment has now effectively been split into three parts: the 11-defendant seditious conspiracy case, a seven-defendant original case, and a third case against one of the previously charged defendants."

The Justice Department says in its statement that all 19 defendants are collectively charged with "corruptly obstructing an official proceeding."

According to the indictment, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power.

The Justice Department said in its press statement that the Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. They focus on recruiting former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel, according to the Justice Department.

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