Arizona ‘Patriot’ Militia Busted By Feds In Plot To Steal Drugs From Bogus Cartel

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Parris Frazier allegedly thought he was going to make $15,000 per kilogram of cocaine he ripped from a drug cartel’s load vehicle last month at an Arizona warehouse.

Unfortunately for him, according to court records, the man who helped him set up the drug rip was an undercover FBI agent. And instead of a tidy payout, Frazier got a high-speed chase that ended in the arrests of him and two of his associates.

Frazier (pictured) and his associates, Robert Deatherage and Erik Foster, were arrested on July 22 after the bogus drug rip and charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court. The three men were members of a local militia called Arizona Special Operations Group, which recently provided security at a protest rally organized by anti-Muslim activist John Ritzheimer, according to local TV station KPHO.

The federal investigation stretched back to January, when the complaint states Frazier spoke with Customs and Border Patrol agents at a traffic stop. Frazier expressed interest in contacting an informal source whom the agents had mentioned as someone who provided them with intel on illegal border activities, according to the complaint.

An undercover FBI agent then began contacting Frazier while posing as the Border Patrol agents’ source. Frazier allegedly told the undercover agent that “he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash),” adding that his group preferred to chase the cash. He allegedly offered a cut of whatever was seized to the undercover agent, too.

The complaint said Frazier had a propensity for violence. In a March 4 meeting, Frazier allegedly told the undercover agent “if we (his group) have to dispatch (kill) some people, we will dispatch some people,” as quoted in the complaint. (The parenthetical explanations are in the complaint.)

Later that month, the complaint alleges Frazier offered to murder the undercover agent’s fictitious cousin in exchange for money, suggesting that such a move would eliminate competition. Frazier even showed a reluctance to talk about the murder-for-hire offer over the phone, according to the complaint.

The FBI and the Phoenix Police Department monitored a few cash and drug rips set up for Frazier by the undercover agent in the months prior to July 22, when the authorities planned to take the militia members into custody. The agent told Frazier that there would be about 10 kilograms of cocaine waiting for him in a vehicle at the Phoenix warehouse and offered to buy the drugs off him for $15,000 per kilogram once they were seized, according to the complaint.

The three militia members showed up at the site and Frazier allegedly seized six packages of drugs left in a vehicle there, according to the complaint. The men allegedly sped off from an FBI SWAT team that attempted to stop their car, but were arrested once they arrived at the home of Frazier’s girlfriend.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against the three men on July 28 charging them with conspiracy to sell cocaine; Frazier was indicted on an additional count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. They are all being held without bail, with detention orders for Frazier and Deatherage stating that they are “a danger to the community.”

It was unclear whether they had attorneys.

An anonymous FBI informant who has followed Deatherage and the Arizona Special Operations Group for years told KPHO that it didn’t surprise him the militia member was arrested. Deatherage and another armed militia member, Richard Malley, mistook a sheriff’s deputy for a drug smuggler in 2013 out in the desert; Malley was charged with aggravated assault for pointing his rifle at the deputy while Deatherage was not charged in the incident.

“I would put my retirement on the fact that there are bodies out there because of these groups,” the informant told the news station.

h/t KPHO

Latest Muckraker
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: