Four members of a militant group associated with the "boogaloo" movement pleaded guilty to destroying evidence after one of their own told them he had killed a federal officer, the US Attorney's Office announced Monday.
Members of the Grizzly Scouts admitted in their plea agreements to destroying messages in a WhatsApp group and trying to delete files that detailed the militant group's ranks, structure, uniforms, and assessment of members' skills following the killing of a federal officer in Oakland last year. Among the files destroyed was a nondisclosure agreement that prohibited members from talking about the group or its training.
The militant group was linked with the extremist "boogaloo bois," a loosely connected movement calling for a second Civil War and known for its heavily armed presence at right-wing protests across the country. They often appeared wearing body armor and floral Hawaiian shirts.
Ideology and the level of participation have varied among the boogaloo groups that have emerged across the country. But federal officials have alleged that members of one network, which included the Grizzly Scouts, were connected with a series of violent acts, including the killing of a federal officer and attempts to supply Hamas with weapons.
On May 29, 2020, authorities allege, Steven Carrillo traveled to Oakland shot at officers outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building, killing a federal protective security officer and injuring a second officer.
Carrillo was on the run until June 6, 2020, when he was taken into custody after a shootout where he allegedly killed a Santa Cruz deputy. He is currently awaiting trial on charges that include murder and attempted murder.
But before he was taken into custody, according to court records, Carrillo sent members of the militant group a message under a WhatsApp group called "209 Goon HQ" asking for help.
"Dudes i offed a fed," the message read.
Shortly after, 29-year-old Jessie Rush, who named himself "Commanding Officer" of the Grizzly Scouts, told Carrillo to delete the data from his phone and try to flee.
Rush, 33-year-old Robert Blancas, 23-year-old Simon Ybarra, and 21-year-old Kenny Miksch then conspired with other members of the group to delete messages and records, expecting that they would come under investigation because of the deadly shooting.
The four admitted in plea deals to deleting messages from the "209 Goon HQ" WhatsApp group, federal prosecutors said. Blancas also deleted a series of files from file hosting service Dropbox, where they had saved confidentiality agreements and information about members' abilities in combat, firearms, and medical training.
Blancas also pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 to a separate charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, admitting to receiving dozens of explicit pictures and videos from a 15-year-old victim.
The four men each face a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.