Six alleged members of the Three Percenters right-wing militia group have been charged with conspiring to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
The six defendants named indictment are: Allan Hostetter, 56, Russell Taylor, 40, Erik Scott Warner, 45, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47, Derek Kinnison, 39, and Ronald Mele, 51. All six are from California.
According to a federal indictment, which was returned by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on Wednesday and made public on Thursday, the group is now facing charges of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds.
Taylor is also charged with obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds. Warner and Kinnison are also charged with tampering with documents or proceedings.
The Justice Department said in a news release that four of the six men “identify as members of Three Percenter militias,” and that all of them chatted on the app Telegram through the late fall and early winter of 2020 to coordinate their actions on Jan. 6.
According to the indictment, Hostetter founded a group in 2020 called the American Phoenix Project that opposes government-mandated restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The members used the encrypted messaging app to plan and co-ordinate their efforts to obstruct and interfere with the joint session of Congress at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to certify the Electoral College vote, sharing information regarding the election, coordinating travel to Washington, D.C., and promoting events sponsored by the American Phoenix Project.
According to the DOJ, they first began to form their plan in December through the Telegram app. Hostetter and Taylor texted each other regarding travel and whether they would bring firearms.
Taylor created a Telegram chat called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade,” which the defendants, along with more than 30 others, joined and used to identify themselves, communicate, and coordinate with each other.
Taylor explained the purpose of the group was to “serve as the Comms for able bodied individuals that are going to DC on Jan 6. Many of us have not met before and we are all ready and willing to fight. We will come together for this moment that we are called upon.”
Taylor also asked members to identify if they had previous law enforcement experience, military experience, or “special skills relevant to our endeavors.”
Two of the six men, Hostetter and Taylor, were seen a day before the Capitol Hill breach with Roger Stone, a long-time friend and adviser to Trump, during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court against the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, Reuters reported.
Stone was convicted of process crimes by special counsel Robert Mueller—namely, lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House’s Russia investigation.
Former President Donald Trump commuted his sentence in July 2020 and eventually pardoned him in December of the same year. The special counsel investigation concluded finding no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Three Percenters was founded in 2008 as an anti-government group. The group derives its name from the idea that only three percent of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.
The men are the first members of a Three Percenters militia group to be charged with conspiracy in connection to the Capitol riot, although 16 members of another militia group, the Oath Keepers, have been indicted on similar charges.
In the 150 days since Jan. 6, approximately 465 individuals have been arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, including over 130 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, the DOJ said.