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FBI agent infiltrated kidnapping conspiracy ring claiming to be explosives expert, agent testifies

Group was allegedly raising $4,000 dollars for explosives meant to blow up a bridge
Conspiracy web photo
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jan 12, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Court transcripts released in the alleged Governor Whitmer kidnapping conspiracy say that an FBI agent infiltrated the group claiming to be an explosives expert.

The FBI agent, who went by the name "Red," was only able to get into the group after one of the members got cold feet about the plan and went to a local police department with his concerns.

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The transcript, released Tuesday, is from the first day of an October 2020 preliminary hearing in the federal cases of Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Casetra. All of the defendants are facing federal charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

When the story of the alleged kidnapping plot first broke in October 2020, FOX 17 reported that the men accused had cased Governor Whitmer's vacation home in Northern Michigan at some point, taking several daylight photos of the front of her property and sharing them with each other through digital messages.

READ MORE: FBI, state police foil militia’s plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

But these new court transcripts unsealed Tuesday reveal that the group participated in an additional, highly intricate dry run of the kidnapping, all under the cover of night in mid-September.

Undercover agent "Red" was along for the trip, stopping under a bridge nearby the governor's vacation home to inspect the structure. The group was allegedly planning to blow up the bridge after kidnapping the governor, in an attempt to slow police and first responders' response time.

"Red" apparently told the group that they would need about $4,000 worth of explosives to knock the bridge out.

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The group also allegedly scoped out a boat launch on the same lake as the governor's home, at some point planning to transport her via boat following the proposed kidnapping.

According to the unsealed documents, the group was at times worried that a federal agent had infiltrated their group, switching their group conversations to various different encrypted web chat applications. Despite this, they did not discover the undercover FBI agent in their midst, nor did they realize that one of their own had flipped and had been feeding the FBI information since June.

Following the dry run in September, the documents say that the group was attempting to raise the $4,000 needed to purchase explosives for the bridge near the governor's summer home.

The FBI says they were able to arrest most of the defendants after "Red" arranged a meeting with the group so they could give him a down payment toward the explosives. "Red" allegedly told the men he would stop by so they could pick out which types of explosives they wanted.

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Another federal court transcript is scheduled to be unsealed on Jan. 25.

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