Firearms, a drone and 30 days of supplies: New details of Oath Keepers Jan. 6 weapons cache

Susan Walsh/AP Photo
·3 min read

Oath Keepers planning to violently subvert the 2020 election stockpiled 30 days of supplies and a cache of rifles and ammunition just outside of Washington, D.C., prosecutors alleged in a late-night court filing.

In a memo seeking the pretrial detention of Oath Keeper Ed Vallejo — one of 11 members of the group charged last week with seditious conspiracy to violently prevent Joe Biden from taking office — prosecutors provided new details about the weapons stockpile Oath Keepers had assembled at a Comfort Inn in nearby Arlington, Va.

Three “quick reaction force” teams set up at the hotel, prepared to ferry weapons into Washington to support the effort to prevent Congress from finalizing Biden’s victory. But the cache became “unnecessary,” prosecutors said, because the Oath Keepers at the Capitol — using the force of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the building — were able to get inside without additional support.

But prosecutors say the Oath Keepers were prepared for a long-haul fight, one that stretched past Jan. 6 to the inauguration. Messages exchanged by Vallejo and others suggested the group cased the Capitol on Jan. 7 and discussed plans to continue working against the transfer of power up through Biden’s inauguration.

But the most salient details in the new memo describe the planning and stockpiling of weapons at the Comfort Inn. Among them, prosecutors say, were “at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases, and suitcases filled with ammunition.”

“A second QRF team from North Carolina consisted of four men who kept their rifles ready to go in a vehicle parked in the hotel lot,” according to the Justice Department. “Later, Vallejo and other members of the Arizona QRF team wheeled in bags and large bins of weapons, ammunition, and essential supplies to last 30 days.”

Prosecutors say that as some Oath Keepers breached the Capitol, Vallejo “attempted, but failed, to launch … a ‘drone with a 720p cam for recon use.’” Capitol Police officials have, in recent days, described efforts to protect the Capitol against unauthorized drones.

Prosecutors say Vallejo is too dangerous to be released pending trial, noting that he continued to profess support for the violent attack on the Capitol even last month, just days before his arrest.

“That Vallejo’s co-conspirators did not activate him on January 6 does not mitigate his dangerousness,” they argue. “Vallejo traveled across the country and staged himself near the congressional proceedings ready to transport firearms and equipment into the nation’s capital. That is what makes him a danger. And there is no evidence that he has renounced violence or that he no longer believes in the necessity of guerilla warfare after January 6.”

Vallejo is slated to face a magistrate judge Thursday afternoon to determine whether he will be released pending trial.

About 20 members of the Oath Keepers were charged as part of a broader conspiracy to block Congress from certifying Biden’s election, including the 11 now facing seditious conspiracy charges. More than a dozen breached the Capitol amid the broader riot and discussed hunting for lawmakers while they were inside.

Vallejo was arrested last week at the same time as Oath Keepers national leader Stewart Rhodes, who is also awaiting a pretrial detention hearing as soon as this week.

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