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Press Release

Utah Man Sentenced to 27 Months in Federal Prison for Possession of Unregistered Destructive Device

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

John Huggins, 48, of Tremonton, Utah, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for possession of an unregistered destructive device, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen of the District of Utah.

In July 2014, Huggins was charged in an indictment with possession of an unregistered destructive device, possession of an explosive by a restricted person, and unlawful distribution of information relating to the manufacture and use of explosives or destructive devices.  Huggins pleaded guilty in February 2015 to possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Huggins admitted in court documents that in July 2014, he possessed a partially assembled explosive device, and that he possessed the knowledge and the materials necessary, including an explosive substance, to readily assemble the device into a functioning explosive device.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed in the case, law enforcement officers received information from a confidential informant that Huggins was planning to use explosives to target the Tremonton Police Department.  The FBI then made contact with the defendant through another confidential informant.  This confidential informant met with Huggins and purchased a thumb drive containing references on how to start and train militias, and how to produce explosives.  An undercover agent, posing as a representative of an anti-government militia group, was introduced to the defendant and told Huggins he was looking for someone who could make explosives and train people in his group.  Huggins responded that he could do that, according to the sentencing memorandum.  Huggins described what he could do and expressed an extreme dislike of law enforcement based on prior interactions with police officers.

During a second meeting with the undercover agent, Huggins went to great lengths to convince the undercover agent that he could build explosives capable of killing people.  The defendant offered to come and train the undercover agent’s group for a month for a fee.  Huggins also presented and sold a notebook to the undercover agent.  The notebook included drawings detailing explosives production and writings on topics such as explosive theory and how to produce different types of explosives.

Huggins was arrested in July 2014.  According to court filings, he admitted that he was meeting with a man he believed to be a member of an extremist militia group.  He admitted that although he did not provide the undercover agent with an explosive device at their meeting, he did have an inert explosive device in his trailer that he planned to show the undercover agent.  He admitted that the device would need to be loaded first to become a bomb, but that all of the necessary components to fully assemble the explosive device were at his residence.

A further search of Huggins’ trailer yielded notebooks containing entries ranging from anti-government ideology to a system to watch and track police officers.

The case was investigated by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Tremonton Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Choate and Carlos A. Esqueda of the District of Utah, and Trial Attorney Clem McGovern of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Updated June 11, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-733