FBI: Militia members moonlighted as drug, cash 'rip crew'

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Three members of a border militia group are behind bars, charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine. They were caught in an FBI sting operation, involving an undercover agent, a plot to steal drugs and money from cartel smugglers, an offer of murder for hire and a high speed chase through the streets of Phoenix.

The FBI arrested Parris Frazier, Robert Deatherage and Erik Foster on July 22, following a seven-month investigation.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Customs and Border Protection agents first made contact with Frazier during a traffic stop in January. The complaint states that the agents mentioned that they had recently lost contact with an informal source, who was giving them details about illegal activity. Frazier reportedly stated that he would like to make contact with that informant in order to help the Border Patrol.

Two weeks later, an undercover FBI agent made contact with Frazier, claiming to be the Border Patrol's source.

The complaint states:

"Frazier said he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash), but they preferred the cash loads going south. Frazier told the UCE that if he provided decent intel on stuff going south (bulk cash), Frazier would give the UCE a percentage of whatever is taken."

The complaint states that over the course of the next six months, the undercover agent made contact with Frazier several more times, and set up fictitious drug and cash "rips" that were monitored by the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI. At one point, Frazier reportedly offered to kill anyone the undercover agent wanted "taken out."

The complaint describes instances where authorities set up scenarios in which Frazier and his team believed they were stealing cartel cash. 

On July 22, the FBI set up the final sting, where they would take Frazier, Foster and Deatherage into custody. Under video surveillance, the three heavily armed men reportedly broke into a warehouse near Interstate 17 and 39th Avenue. The complaint states that the informant told Frazier there would be 10 kilos of cocaine stored there. The plan was for Frazier to steal the drugs and sell them back to the undercover agent.
At the break-in, an FBI SWAT team moved in, but the complaint states that the three men took off in a vehicle at a high rate of speed. 

Authorities called off the chase because of safety concerns but followed the suspects with an air unit.

All three were taken into custody at an apartment rented by Frazier’s girlfriend.

A U.S. District Court Order of Detention states that the three men are being held without bond because they pose a danger to the community. It states that Frazier "is a danger to witnesses and the community, based upon his threats of murder, amassed weapons and ammunition, and his connections to a militia community."

Deatherage and Frazier are members of a militia called Arizona Special Operations Group, whose Facebook page contains dozens of pictures taken during operations in the desert south of Phoenix. The ASOG also provided security for Jon Ritzheimer, who organized a recent anti-Islam rally outside a Phoenix mosque. There is no indication Ritzheimer had anything to do with the plot to steal cartel drugs and cash.

Deatherage and another militia member named Richard Malley were accused of holding a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy at gunpoint two years ago while on patrol in the desert. Malley was prosecuted for the incident. Deatherage was not charged.

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