Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and ten members of the organization have been arrested on federal charges of “seditious conspiracy.”
The charges stem from the organization’s involvement in the January 6 protest at the Capitol last year.
Rhodes, 56, was arrested in Little Elm, Texas on Thursday.
“A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment yesterday, which was unsealed today, charging 11 defendants with seditious conspiracy and other charges for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election,” the Justice Department said in a press release about the arrests.
Edward Vallejo, Thomas Caldwell, Joseph Hackett, Kenneth Harrelson, Joshua James, Kelly Meggs, Roberto Minuta, David Moerschel, Brian Ulrich, and Jessica Watkins, were also charged.
Rhodes and Vallejo did not have prior charges related to January 6, but the others had been previously arrested.
“Eight other individuals affiliated with the Oath Keepers, all previously charged in the investigation, remain as defendants in two related cases. All defendants – except Rhodes and Vallejo – previously were charged in a superseding indictment. 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 statement continued.
The 19 total defendants have all been charged with corruptly obstructing an official proceeding. Only 11 are facing the “seditious conspiracy” charge.
“The seditious conspiracy indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021,” the DOJ said. “Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote, the indictment alleges. Rhodes and several co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021.”
The DOJ added, “the defendants conspired through a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; 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; breaching and attempting 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; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators and others.”
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Texas and the District of Arizona have also provided assistance.
Over 725 individuals have now been arrested for the events on January 6, spanning nearly every state.