Federal agents arrested six alleged members of the anti-government Alabama Free Militia on April 26, following the largest weapons seizure to occur in the South in years.
The seizure was the result of simultaneous raids executed by over 100 federal, state and local law enforcement officers in DeKalb, Marshall, Etowah, and Jefferson Counties.
Five of the men- Raymond Kirk Dillard (also known as Jeff Osborne), 46, of Collinsvill, the alleged leader, or major, of the militia; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41, of Collinsville; Bonnell Hughes (also known as Buster Hughes), 57, of Crossville; Randall Garrett Cole, 22, of Gadsden, an alleged major lieutenant in the group; and James Ray McElroy, 20, of Collinsville- were indicted on May 3 on federal charges of conspiring to make hand grenades, and possessing various weapons or explosives.
Dillard was also arrested as a fugitive from justice on an unrelated federal charge of possession of a sawed off shotgun in Mobile, Alabama.
Also on May 3, the sixth man, Michael Wayne Bobo, 30, of Trussville, was indicted on charges of being a drug user in possession of ten or more firearms, and marijuana possession.
During the raids, agents confiscated 130 grenades, a grenade launcher, approximately 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun, explosives parts, two silencers, numerous other firearms, commercial fireworks and 2,500 rounds of ammunition. Some of the explosives were in plain view, while others were hidden.
Twelve bomb squads, including ATF, Alabama Department of Public Safety and Gadsden, Alabama's bomb squad, joined in the raids.
During the May 1 bond hearing, a federal ATF agent testified that Dillard, Cunningham, Hughes, Cole and McElroy were planning an attack on Mexicans in a town near Birmingham. The agent further claimed that the group has an alleged policy to shoot at any government agents that attempt to approach them.
Dillard’s home, which is a green camouflage-adorned trailer surrounded by military paraphernalia, in which he lived without electricity or running water, was booby-trapped with trip wires and two hand grenades. Authorities also recovered numerous guns and approximately 100 marijuana plants at the location.
The property owner has alleged that Dillard often tried to recruit new militia members, and that he spoke of his hatred for both the government and for illegal immigrants.
McElroy lived under a tarp tent near Dillard’s trailer, where agents discovered an SKS rifle.
At Cunningham's Collinsville home were commercial fireworks, home-made hand grenades, fuse components and numerous guns.
In Crossville, at Hughes' home, there were close to 200 improvised hand grenades, a submachine gun and two silencers.
At Bobo’s home in Trussville, authorities found bomb-making materials, 12 guns and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.
According to a U.S. Attorney involved in the case, it is a felony in Alabama to possess the type of fireworks that were used to make the grenades without a license.
The investigation began four months ago when an ATF informant met Dillard at a flea market in Collinsville, where Dillard told him about the Free Militia. The informant became a “sergeant major” in the organization and provided information on the group’s activities using audio and video surveillance. Two months ago the informant reportedly saw grenades at Cole’s home, leading to the raids.
Investigators continue to search for additional explosives that may have been hidden elsewhere.
The group, based in DeKalb County, Alabama, purportedly once went by the name Naval Militia, and claims to have 26 members.