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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 22, 2022

Militia Group Member Sentenced To Over Ten Years In Prison For Obstruction Of Justice Conspiracy And Enticement Of A Minor To Engage In Sexual Activity

Last of Four “Grizzly Scouts” Members Sentenced For Conspiring to Thwart Investigation into the Murder of a Federal Protective Security Officer and the Shooting of Another; Robert Blancas Also Sentenced For Enticing a 15-Year-Old Girl to Produce Child Pornography

SAN FRANCISCO – Robert Blancas, a member of the “Grizzly Scouts” militia group connected to the “boogaloo” movement, was sentenced today to 126 months in prison for obstructing justice and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan.  The obstruction charge relates to the investigation of the murder of a federal Protective Security Officer (PSO) and the shooting of another PSO at the Oakland federal building on May 29, 2020.  The enticement charge relates to the production of child pornography.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Vince Chhabria, United States District Judge.

Blancas, 35, of the San Francisco Bay Area, was one of four members of the militia group indicted on March 23, 2021, in connection with their scheme to obstruct justice by destroying records related to the murder and shooting investigation.  Today, Blancas was the last of the four defendants to be sentenced.  Three other members of the group were previously sentenced on May 5, 2022 by the Hon. James Donato, United States District Judge: Jessie Rush, 29, of Turlock; Simon Ybarra, 23, of Los Gatos; and Kenny Miksch, 21, of San Lorenzo.  Rush, Ybarra, and Miksch each remain in federal custody.  

“Today’s 126 month sentence imposed on Blancas brings an end to another chapter in this tragic story,” said U.S. Attorney Hinds.  “The sentence of Blancas arises from two separate, serious offenses: enticement of a minor to produce child pornography and the obstruction of the federal investigation into the May 29, 2020, assault on the Oakland federal courthouse.  The shooting involved the murder of a Federal Protective Service officer and the wounding of a second officer.  Rather than assist federal authorities, Blancas and his Grizzly Scouts co-conspirators destroyed important evidence in an effort to obstruct justice.  Through the diligence of law enforcement, their cowardly efforts were not successful, and all four have been convicted of felonies and sentenced to custodial sentences.  Destruction of evidence relevant to a federal investigation is a serious offense and will land you in jail.”

"Robert Blancas and his three co-defendants conspired to cover up the murder of a federal officer. Not only was Blancas convicted of obstruction of justice, he was also convicted of the heinous crime of enticing a juvenile to make child pornography," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan. "Either of these crimes on their own would have been very significant, high-priority cases for the FBI. The broad nature of his criminal offenses demonstrate that Robert Blancas was a threat to society. The combined sentence of greater than ten years in federal prison prevents him from continuing to harm our community."

According to their plea agreements entered into at the time of their guilty pleas, Blancas and his codefendants Rush, Ybarra, and Miksch formed an armed anti-government militia group in April 2020 named the “1st Detachment, 1st California Grizzly Scouts” (Grizzly Scouts).  They had connected earlier via a Facebook group created in connection to the “boogaloo” movement.  “Boogaloo” is a term, as noted in the indictment, used by some militia extremists to reference a purportedly impending politically-motivated civil war or uprising against the government.  Blancas assumed the rank of “1st Lieutenant” with responsibilities for the group’s security and intelligence.  Blancas and his codefendants acknowledged in their plea agreements that they engaged in armed, in person “training operations” in May 2020 with “operations orders” that labeled law enforcement as potential “enemy forces” and suggested using lethal force and taking prisoners.  They also engaged in June 2020 discussions with other Grizzly Scouts about “boog” (boogaloo), waging war against the government, and tactics for killing law enforcement personnel, including police officers.  

Blancas and his codefendants acknowledged in their plea agreements that they learned another Grizzly Scouts member was involved in the May 29, 2020 murder of a federal PSO and the attempted murder of another PSO in Oakland.  The Grizzly Scouts member sent group communications via a WhatsApp group entitled “209 Goon HQ” during that alleged member’s subsequent attack on and shoot-out with Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies in Ben Lomond, California on June 6, 2020.  Blancas and his codefendants admitted to conspiring with other group members to destroy the records of their interactions and communications because they foresaw authorities would investigate and prosecute that Grizzly Scouts member, and admitted that they intended to impair the integrity and availability of the records for use in official proceedings.  Blancas also destroyed files on Dropbox regarding the Grizzly Scouts that consisted of the group’s rank structure, a non-disclosure agreement requiring members to maintain confidentiality of group materials, a liability release waiver, descriptions of the Grizzly Scouts uniforms, and a scorecard assessing the skills of Grizzly Scouts members in combat, firearms, medical, and other training.  

Before the indictment, Blancas was also charged in a separate complaint and information with the enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, that is, the production of child pornography.  Blancas was arrested on December 1, 2020, and he has remained in federal custody since then.  In entering his plea of guilty, Blancas admitted that from about April through September 2020 he enticed a 15-year old girl to repeatedly make and send him pornographic photographs and videos of herself.  Blancas admitted that he received more than one hundred pornographic photographs and videos from the victim, all while exchanging thousands of messages with her and speaking to her by audio and video call.  Blancas also admitted that he knew she was a minor when he did so.  Blancas pleaded guilty to enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b).

Last year, Blancas also pleaded guilty in the obstruction case to three counts: one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by destroying records in an official proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(k), and two counts of destroying records in official proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1).  

In addition to the prison term, Judge Chhabria imposed a ten year term of supervised release on Blancas following incarceration.  

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Cheng and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Riebli from the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  The prosecutions are the result of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  
 

Updated August 22, 2022