Bomb manuals, suspected steroids seized during Hutaree raids, search warrant records show
Federal law enforcement agents have executed at least 13 search warrants since their investigation began in December 2008 into the Christian militia unit, whose members are accused of plotting to kill cops.
During a search of Hutaree's headquarters in Lenawee County, agents seized items that can be used to build explosives, including cardboard tubes with cannon fuse and a container of potassium chlorate, records show.
The items are listed in about 100 pages of search warrant documents reviewed by AnnArbor.com. The records were filed last week in federal court in Detroit.
Nine Hutaree members are in federal custody after being indicted on charges that accuse them of conspiring to levy war against the United States. Among other allegations, authorities say Hutaree members planned to kill a law enforcement officer, then attack the funeral procession motorcade with homemade bombs.
The investigation into the group began Dec. 8, 2008 when ATF agents say they conducted a routine records check on federal firearms licensee Walter Priest. Priest is the owner of Gun Outfitters, LLC, which he operates out of his Adrian home.Â
At the time of the records check, Hutaree members were upset, saying the ATF was looking for records on Stone. Investigators said Stone sent out an e-mail encouraging militia members to fight the ATF.
On Feb. 5, 2009, federal agentsÂ executed a search warrant at Priest’s home on Forrister Road, looking for materials used to make explosives, ingredients used to manufacture meth and other items.Â They seized guns, a laptop computer, a binder of diagrams, a model rocket engine, tools and other items.
Priest'sÂ son, 25-year-old Walter Jason Priest, has a previous explosives conviction and was sentenced to federal prison last month for possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon. Adrian police searched his Company StreetÂ apartment after they responded to an assault call Jan. 22, 2009 and saw him carrying a shotgun. Police seized items including a computer and camera, which were later analyzed by federal agents, who obtained search warrants.
Federal prosecutors have said an offer was made by Hutaree members to break Walter Jason Priest out of jail. His father, Walter Priest, told AnnArbor.com he is not aware of that offer.
On March 27, FBI agents, who had an undercover agent who penetrated Hutaree,
executed eight other search warrants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. On the same night, they raided a memorial service in the Ann Arbor area, arresting a number of Hutaree members. It all occurred in less than a five-hour span.
Here’s a list of the search warrants executed that night and some items found:
6:30 p.m., Calumet Avenue, Whiting, Indiana, home of Hutaree member Thomas Piatek
Agents seized military uniforms, a ballistic helmet, samurai sword, crossbow, parachute flares and other items. Investigators also seized audio of “The Turner Diaries,” which is a novel that militia watchdog groups say provided inspiration to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. In addition, agents seized a CD, “Explosives, Ordnance & Demolitions,” and the book “My New Order” by Adolf Hitler, records show. Investigators also recovered 46 firearms and more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition, documents show.
7:10 p.m., Bruce Highway, Blissfield, Michigan, home of Hutaree member Joshua Clough
At Clough’s home, investigators seized guns and ammunition, computers, the book “Underground Bases & Tunnels,” a “Citizen Homeland Defense Paper,” a camera, trench coat with shoulder patches, portfolio with business cards and other items, records show.
7:30 p.m., Tomer Road, Clayton, Michigan, Hutaree headquarters, home of Hutaree leader David Brian Stone
Agents seized items that can be used to make explosives and instructions on how to build them. Two cardboard tubes with green/cannon fuse, a two-page document about a funnel shape charge, hand grenade instructions, schematics, a container of potassium chlorate, a grenade holder, bomb manuals and other items were seized. Investigators also recovered a notebook with the doctrine of the Hutaree and rank, records show. In addition, agents seized gas masks, 3 DVDs labeled Waco, a Hutaree flag, knives, machetes, swords, body armor, load-bearing vests, communications equipment, computers and a 2005 daily planner book. Guns, ammunition and an ammo canÂ with pieces of metal and shrapnel also were seized.
7:30 p.m., East Cedarwood Drive, Sandusky, Ohio, home of Hutaree member Kristopher Sickles
Investigators seized suspected crack cocaine, glass vials with syringes (suspected steroids), a ghillie suit (a sniper suit also used by hunters), sterno fuel, guns with flares, night vision equipment, OC spray, camcorders, a lock pick set, a scanner, guns, ammunition and other items.
7:30 p.m., Wilbor Avenue, Huron, Ohio, the home of Hutaree member Jacob Ward
Agents searched Ward’s home, seizing VHS tapes, disposable cameras, an address book, court papers, walkie-talkies, a Huron police report, “Supreme Court Decision Paperwork,” photos from the wall, roller blade pads, ammunition and other items, records show.
8:10 p.m., South Main Street, Adrian, Michigan, home of Hutaree member David Stone Jr.’s fiancÃ©e
Some of the writing in the search warrant log is too faint to read. Items seized include a computer, Bible, Hutaree jacket and ammunition.
10:56 p.m., Bemis Road, Manchester, Michigan, home of Hutaree member Michael Meeks’ parents
Agents seized guns, ammunition, digital cameras, GPS units, a cell phone, computer and other items, records show.
11 p.m., Brooks Highway, Onsted, Michigan
A home was searched but nothing was seized. It's unclear who owns the home.
Since the March 27 raids, agents have executed at least two other search warrants.
On March 29, at about 6:30 p.m., agents executed a search warrant on a truck registered to Hutaree member Thomas Piatek, who was already in custody. Investigators seized a militia field guide, spent rounds, a handgun license and other items, records show.
Agents also executed a search warrant authorized March 30 on Hutaree member Michael Meeks' home on Timber Lane in Norvell, Michigan, records show. Investigators seized liquid tear gas, an alarm disarming book, night vision binoculars, guns, ammunition, knives, MREs, a flare gun and other items.
Mike Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, said it's typical for militia members to have a lot of guns and ammunition.
Lackomar has six handguns, four rifles and 2,500 rounds of ammunition at his home, he said. In one weekend of training, he said he can go through hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
“If you order ammo by the thousands, you get a good discount on it,” Lackomar said.
But he questioned why there would be hand grenade instructions, a grenade holder and documents related to explosives at Hutaree headquarters.
“That’s kind of shady to me," he said.
Lee Higgins is a reporter for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.