LAS VEGAS (AP) — A sting operation stopped a plot to abduct, torture and kill police officers to bring attention to the antiauthority sovereign citizen movement, Las Vegas police said Thursday.
David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman were arrested at an apartment a few miles off the Vegas Strip before they could carry out a plan to snatch officers, "put them on trial" and execute them in a vacant house, Las Vegas police Lt. James Seebock said.
Federal authorities regard sovereign citizen extremists as domestic terrorists. Authorities have linked sovereign citizens groups with violent confrontations in recent years, including deadly shootings in Louisiana and Arkansas.
Brutsche, 42, and Newman, 67, wanted to draw attention to the group's rejection of governmental authority, making the case a domestic terror plot, Seebock said.
"They were furthering their 'sovereign citizen' ideology by committing criminal acts toward law enforcement," he said.
Brutsche and Newman were held in Clark County jail pending court appearances on charges including conspiracy to commit murder and attempted kidnapping. It was not immediately clear whether they had lawyers.
The investigation began when an unidentified undercover officer befriended Brutsche and Newman in April, police said.
The three participated in meetings and training sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy and later shopped for guns and discussed plans to track and videotape police officers to determine whom to abduct, according to a 10-page arrest report.
They found a vacant house and rigged it with bolts drilled into wall supports, creating a makeshift jail where they planned to bind captive officers to cross beams for interrogation, police said.
Authorities haven't released video evidence, but the report states that Brutsche and Newman recorded videos about their actions and ideology to post following the planned abductions.
Hundreds of hours of conversation were recorded over the course of 30 meetings with the undercover officer, police said.
"We need to arrest the police and take them to our jail and put them in a cell and put them on trial in a people's court," Brutsche said on July 9, according to the arrest report. "If we run into the position that they resist, then we need to kill them."
During a tour of gun stores the next day, Brutsche said that what they were planning was going to be big, "and that they would really get a large following once they started because of the publicity," the report said.
Police said that when Brutsche was arrested, he denied that police had authority to hold him.
Police identified Brutsche as a six-time convicted felon and child sex offender from California. Authorities did not detail a further criminal background for Newman.
Authorities have linked sovereign citizens groups with violent confrontations in other places.
In Louisiana last year, police linked a sovereign citizen group to shootout that left two deputies dead and two others wounded. At least some of the seven people arrested were identified as sovereign citizen members.
In Arkansas in 2010, a father and son identified as members of the group shot and killed two police officers before being killed by authorities in a separate shootout.
Associated Press writer Hannah Dreier contributed to this report.