Neo-Nazi Leader Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Explosives Charges
Brandon Clint Russell, 22, of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced today to five years in federal prison for possessing an unregistered destructive device and for unlawful storage of explosive material. Russell pleaded guilty on Sept. 27, 2017.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez of the Middle District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Eric W. Sporre of the FBI’s Tampa Division, and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan made the announcement. The sentence was issued by Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew.
“Russell, an active and founding member of a neo-Nazi group, was sentenced today by a federal judge after he unlawfully possessed and stored dangerous explosive materials in his home,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “This case is but one example of the National Security Division’s resolve to identify, disrupt and prevent terrorist threats, whether domestic or international.”
“I am thankful for the great collaboration and coordination among our law enforcement partners in bringing this case forward,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “Their quick response and in-depth investigation has resulted in a successful prosecution.”
“This investigation exemplifies the close working relationship between Tampa area federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and highlights the importance of collaboration in diffusing potential threats to our community,” said Special Agent in Charge Sporre.
“This is the kind of case where our collaboration and close working relationships serve the public well,” said Police Chief Dugan. “We’re grateful to our federal partners for this successful investigation and prosecution.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, on May 19, 2017, officers from the Tampa Police Department responded to a double homicide at an apartment in the Tampa Palms area where Russell had been living with the alleged shooter, Devon Arthurs, and the two deceased victims. According to Arthurs, the four roommates were active members of the “Atomwaffen,” a neo-Nazi group that was started and led by Russell. Arthurs also claimed to have seen Russell participating in online neo-Nazi chat rooms, where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure. Arthurs further advised law enforcement that Russell had explosive materials in the house.
During a search of the residence, law enforcement officers discovered a cooler in the garage containing the explosive HMTD (Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine), along with various other explosive precursors, multiple pounds of ammonium nitrate, nitro-methane, empty shell casings, fuses and electric matches in close proximity.
In Russell’s bedroom, officers found neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, including a framed picture of Timothy McVeigh on his dresser. Russell’s closet contained his own military uniform, firearms and ammunition, and camouflage military-type gear containing the name and symbols of “Atomwaffen.” Law enforcement officers also located various books, military gear and flags throughout the apartment that are commonly associated with white supremacist extremist organizations.
Upon questioning, Russell admitted that he had manufactured the HMTD located in the garage and that the explosive precursors belonged to him. He also admitted to being a member of the “Atomwaffen.” The following day, Russell was arrested on federal criminal charges in Key Largo, where he was found with two long rifles and ammunition that he had purchased after leaving the Tampa area.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Tampa Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Josephine W. Thomas and Daniel A. George of the Middle District of Florida, with assistance from Trial Attorneys Joshua D. Champagne and Thomas E. Brzozowski of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.