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Four suspected ‘grizzly’ militia accused of destroying evidence in federal investigation

LOS ANGELES – Four men from northern California, allegedly affiliated with the far-right “Grizzly” militia, have been charged with destroying evidence in a federal investigation into the murder of two officers, the police said on Friday. prosecutors.

Jessie Alexander Rush, 29, of Turlock; Robert Jesus Blancas, 33, with no hometown; Simon Sage Ybarra, 23, of Los Gatos; and Kenny Matthew Miksch, 21, of San Lorenzo, are charged in the March 23 indictment with conspiring to destroy records, destroying records and obstructing official proceedings, the office said. US attorney in San Francisco.

Blancas also faces another federal case, filed on November 20, accusing him of instigating a teenage girl into having sex.

It was not immediately clear who represented the accused in court. Candis Mitchell, Deputy Chief Federal Public Defender for Northern California, declined to comment.

Federal officials say the four have contacted the US Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, on June 6, as he ambushed deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, killing one of them.

Officers were at a location in the town of Ben Lomond to check on a suspicious white van later associated with the drive-through murder of Federal Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, during George Floyd’s protests outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal. Building in Oakland.

Carrillo is also accused in this case and has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

“The guys ate a food,” Carrillo told the men on WhatsApp just minutes before the Santa Cruz sheriff’s sergeant. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was fatally shot, according to a statement from the US prosecutor on Friday.

Prosecutors called the four “grizzly bear scouts” or members of a small group of northern California men associated with “boogaloos,” a weakly affiliated anti-government group that advocates violence against liberal politicians and the military. of the order.

Investigators said Carrillo asked the men to ambush officers as they rushed to the filming scene.

“Get ready and come here,” Carrillo wrote, according to the indictment. “There is only one entry / exit route. Take them out when they enter … The police are there for me … They are waiting for reinforcements that I listen to them.”

Prosecutors said Rush told Carrillo “immediately” to “reset” his cell phone, allegedly to destroy the texts as potential evidence. The four ultimately removed all WhatsApp group records from their phones, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.

Blancas also deleted 20 files from a Dropbox account, according to the indictment. “Almost all of them were about the Grizzly Boy Scouts,” the US attorney’s office said. “The deleted files pertaining to Grizzly Boy Scouts appeared to include, for example, files pertaining to Grizzly Boy Scout rank structure.”

Federal authorities called the “Grizzly Scouts” a small militia who “logged in through a Facebook group” and “discussed the commission of acts of violence against law enforcement using WhatsApp and others. messaging applications “.

“They say the West doesn’t boog,” someone wrote on the Facebook group page, according to prosecutors, in reference to Boogaloo.

“have been [sic] here to bring together like-minded Californians who can network and build local squads, ”the social media post said, according to the indictment.

Brian Levin. director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said the defendants appear to reflect the state of domestic terrorism in the United States.

“We have a slew of far-right Boogaloo defendants with a common social media denominator,” he said. “In an increasingly fragmented extremist landscape, it is the small underground groups that are among the most dangerous threats.”

The accused each face a maximum of 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and Romero from San Diego.

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