Member of Neo-Nazi Group Sentenced for Plot to Target Journalists and Advocates
Johnny Roman Garza, 21, a member of the Neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced today to 16 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a plot to threaten and intimidate journalists and advocates who worked to expose anti-Semitism.
Garza previously pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to conspiring with other Atomwaffen members to commit three offenses against the United States: interference with federally-protected activities because of religion, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 245; mailing threatening communications, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 876; and cyberstalking, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2261A.
“The United States and other nations fought a global war to rid the world of murderous threats and violence by Nazis. The nation and its allies defeated Nazi Germany, but Nazi-inspired threats and violence continue to plague this nation and others 75 years after the end of World War II. The defendant threatened a Jewish journalist and conspired to intimidate journalists and advocates who worked to expose anti-Semitism around the country,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Threats motivated by religious intolerance are unacceptable, and so too are threats aimed at those who work to end such discrimination. The Justice Department will continue the fight against neo-Nazi-related threats and violence and is committed fully to investigating and prosecuting anyone who commits hate crimes.”
“While this defendant did not hatch this disturbing plot, he enthusiastically embraced it, researching addresses for journalists and those who oppose hate in our communities,” said Brian T. Moran U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. “Ultimately in the dark of night he delivered a hateful, threatening poster -- spreading fear and anxiety. Such conduct has no place in our community.”
“Protecting our communities from terrorism, both domestic and international, is a top priority for the FBI,” said FBI Seattle Acting Special Agent in Charge Earl Camp. “Mr. Garza, along with his conspirators, targeted and intimidated journalists from minority groups with communications threatening violence. We are proud of the collaborative nationwide efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces and other law enforcement partners to hold these individuals accountable for their actions.”
In his plea agreement, Garza admitted that he conspired with the other defendants via an encrypted online chat group to identify journalists and advocates to threaten in retaliation for the victims’ work exposing anti-Semitism. The group focused primarily on journalists and advocates who were Jewish or people of color. In a message to the other co-defendants, Garza explained that the plot was designed to “have them all wake up one morning and find themselves terrorized by targeted propaganda.” On the night of Jan. 25, 2020, Garza placed a poster on the bedroom window of a prominent Jewish journalist that depicted a figure in a skull mask holding a Molotov cocktail in front of a burning home. The poster contained the victim’s name and address, and warned, “Your actions have consequences. Our patience has its limits . . . You have been visited by your local Nazis.”
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix, with assistance from the Seattle Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer, with assistance from National Security Division Trial Attorney David Smith and U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona, and Central District of California.