Three Men Charged With Conspiracy to Possess Destructive Devices
ROME, Ga. - Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson appeared in federal court today for preliminary and bond hearings on federal charges of conspiring to receive and possess unregistered destructive devices, specifically pipe bombs and thermite devices. According to a federal complaint filed this week, the defendants sought to obtain the explosive devices as part of a militia operation.
"This case is a stark reminder of the threat we face not just from abroad, but from within our own borders from our own citizens,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “When plans turn violent, law enforcement must step in to protect our communities from harm. Fortunately, the FBI was able to stop these defendants before they were able to carry out their plans."
Ricky Maxwell, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The FBI can no longer wait to respond to the aftermath of a radicalized individual's or group's threats. Instead, we have to bring our investigative and analytical assets to bear in getting ahead of those threats and potential attacks and do so within the rule of law. The FBI would like to thank the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, Floyd County Police Department, Polk County Police Department, Rome Police Department, and the Bartow County Sheriff's Office for their investigative and operational assistance in this matter.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between January 23, 2014, and February 15, 2014, Cannon, Williamson, and Terry Eugene Peace, the third defendant, participated in online chat discussions during which they discussed carrying out an operation against the government. During on online chat on January 23, 2014, Peace spoke about a mission that was to be launched in February. Peace encouraged members of the militia to review guerilla warfare tactics, small unit tactics, accumulate supplies, and prepare their families. Peace also identified targets such as “…TSA, DHS, non-emergency FEMA, road blocks, etc.” The discussions were reported to the FBI, and the FBI then began consensually monitoring the communications.
Pursuant to this mission, Peace asked a cooperating witness to provide them with 12 pipe bombs and two thermite grenades. Peace, Cannon and Williamson subsequently planned to meet with the cooperating witness in order to take possession of the items after the items were made.
On February 15, 2014, Peace, Cannon and Williamson drove to a location in Cartersville to meet the cooperating witness. Prior to their arrival, the cooperating witness was provided with 12 inert pipe bombs and 2 inert thermite devices that were constructed to look like real explosives. The three defendants were arrested as they were taking possession of the devices.
Terry Peace, 45, Brian Cannon, 37, and Cory Williamson, 28, of Rome, Ga., all had initial appearances before Walter E. Johnson, United States Magistrate Judge, on February 18. Cannon and Williamson were detained at the conclusion of today’s hearing. All three were charged in a criminal complaint on February 18, 2014.
Members of the public are reminded that the criminal complaint only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Tracia King and Ryan Buchanan are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Rome Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.