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Member of “The Base” facing more serious charges in Tuscola County

Two more members were charged this week.
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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TUSCOLA COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - More charges related to a white supremacist group which was attempting to set up a base in mid-Michigan.

Two more people have been arrested with ties to that group, known as the Base

We found out this week they are accused of looking at abandoned jail sites for potential training areas.

Those sites are in Tuscola County and that’s where the members of the Base are now facing their most serious charges.

“From all the intelligence that was gathered, that was certainly part of the plan,” says Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene.

Investigators believe the plan of 25-year-old Justen Watkins of Bad Axe, who was already in jail, 32-year-old Thomas Denton of Gillett, Wisconsin, and 19-year-old Tristan Webb of Bad Axe was to use two abandoned Michigan Department of Corrections facilities in Tuscola County as training areas for paramilitary firearms training.

Reene explains how investigators learned of the alleged plot..

“It was another individual that was associated with them, passed along information and then it was followed up by them as a potential area that could be used for their purposes,” he says.

The charges include larceny in a building, gang membership, felony firearm and conspiracy to commit teaching use of firearms for civil disorder

“What’s troubling again, is the ideology of this group, you are familiar with that, what the plans are, and then just the possession of numerous weapons,” says Reene.

Federal authorities said Watkins ran a “hate camp” for members of the group to overthrow the government on this farm outside of Bad Axe. A fourth person, Alfred Gorman of Taylor, was arrested with Watkins in October.

Reene says law enforcement continues to investigate this group and others that promote hate.

“Law enforcement has to be extraordinarily vigilant with a variety of different threats that seem to be presenting themselves on a regular basis,” says Reene.

Watkins remains in jail in southeast Michigan. Denton remains in the Tuscola County Jail, held on a $250,000 bond while Webb posted ten percent of his $250,000 bond and is out of jail, but on a tether.

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