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Granbury founder of far-right Oath Keepers group charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to Jan. 6

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III becomes the highest-ranking member of an extremist group to be arrested in the deadly insurrection.
Credit: Collin County Jail
Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, of Granbury, is charged with seditious conspiracy for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Rhodes, according to officials, is the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, which authorities said played a major role in planning the attack.

GRANBURY, Texas — Federal authorities arrested a Granbury man on Thursday and charged him with seditious conspiracy for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, 56, was arrested a little before noon in Little Elm, Texas, federal officials said.

Rhodes is reported to be the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group.

Ten other people -- including another Prosper, Texas man, 37-year-old Roberto Minuta -- were also charged with seditious conspiracy on Thursday in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, when authorities said members of the extremist Oath Keepers group came to Washington intent on stopping the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

According to the federal indictment, Rhodes and others began in late December 2020 using encrypted and private messaging apps to coordinate, plan and travel -- armed -- to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

Among their plans, the indictment said, was organizing into teams that were "prepared and willing to use force" and to transport firearms and ammo into the D.C. area. The court documents outline that Rhodes texted his followers, “We aren’t getting through this without a Civil War."

Per the indictment, Rhodes and others also allegedly recruited members to participate in the conspiracy; organized trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; brought and provided thousands of dollars of paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies; breached the Capitol and attempted to take control of the Capitol grounds; and continued to plot after Jan. 6 to prevent the lawful transfer of presidential power.

As rioters began to go inside the US Capitol, one member asked if they had been infiltrated by "Antifa", to which Rhodes allegedly responded, "Nope I’m right here. These are patriots."

With his arrest, Rhodes becomes the highest-ranking member of an extremist group to be arrested in relation to the deadly insurrection, according to officials. He's scheduled to have a first appearance in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, in Plano, on Friday afternoon.

Neama Rahmani is a former federal prosecutor and the head of West Coast Trial Lawyers. He says Rhodes arrest sends a statement.

"Today is the culmination of excellent law enforcement work by the FBI, really peeling back the layers of the onion and getting to the heads of the organization," he said. "These types of proactive investigations are really what the feds are good at."

Today's arrests also mark the first time the Justice Department has brought a seditious conspiracy charge in connection with the attack on the Capitol. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to federal officials.

"The state of the evidence the prosecution has right now is pretty damning," Rahmani said. "I mean you’re talking about military equipment here.”

In the one year since Jan. 6, more than 725 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. More than 225 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. 

At least 35 arrests relating to Jan. 6 have been made by the FBI's Dallas field office so far.

The federal investigation remains ongoing.

William Joy and material from the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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