FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. — Three Georgia men have been arrested after police say they were involved in a white supremacist group that had plans to overthrow the government and kill a Bartow County couple.
Luke Austin Lane, 21, has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal gang known as “The Base.”
Lane was arrested Wednesday at his home in Floyd County. Michael John Helterbrand, 25, of Dalton, and Jacob Kaderli, 19, of Dacula, were also arrested in other locations. They were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal street gang.
The members of The Base are described as a “racially motivated, violent extremist group that sought to ‘accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state,’” according to a news release from Floyd County police.
The group, which has the motto “learn, train, fight,” brings together white supremacists with varying ideologies.
According to an affidavit, “members of The Base” would recruit new followers and communicate through a variety of online platforms and encrypted online messaging applications and chat rooms.”
Its organizers recruit fellow white supremacists online — particularly seeking out veterans because of their military training — and train members in military-style camps in the woods, according to experts who track extremist groups.
Some of the topics discussed in these chat rooms included support for the gunman involved in the 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, how to react to law enforcement if they show up with a warrant, the idea of suicide by cop and other methods to escalate white supremacy, the affidavit said.
The arrests came after an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group and participated in shooting drills in the mountains of northern Georgia, according to a police affidavit. The drills were being done in preparation for what they believe is an impending collapse of the United States and ensuing race war. At the end of the firearms training, the Georgia men wore tactical gear and balaclava hoods while posing for photos with the undercover agent and the photos were later used in the group’s propaganda, the affidavit says.
Lane, Kaderli and the undercover agent drove to the couple's home in Bartow County to scope it out, according to the affidavit. After checking out the property and the surrounding neighborhood, Lane suggested using a sledgehammer as one way of breaching the door, then killing them with revolvers, according to the affidavit. Kaderli suggested they should burn the house down after the killings, it states.
Members of The Base also believe in an extreme form of survivalism and preparation, offering real-life survivalist training to resist the “extinction” of the Caucasian race, the FBI has said.
The arrests show an intensified focus on the group from law enforcement officials who are concerned that the supremacists may go beyond plotting to violent acts, a threat made more urgent ahead of a pro-gun rally Monday in Richmond, Virginia.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.