Authorities in Boston arrested an armed extremist at a train station on Thanksgiving.
"A Boston man was arrested last night and charged with illegally carrying a loaded pistol. The defendant, who allegedly purchased a firearm and body armor, and material that could be used to assemble explosives, adheres to the anti-government/anti-authority sovereign citizen extremist ideology," the Department of Justice announced Friday. "Pepo Herd El a/k/a Pepo Wamchawi Herd (El), 47, of Dorchester, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition."
The DOJ says El has been under law enforcement surveillance.
"It is alleged that in the early afternoon of Nov. 26, 2020, El took a bus from his house in Dorchester to the Ruggles MBTA station. At Ruggles, El was detained and searched pursuant to a search warrant. During that search, law enforcement discovered that El was in possession of a loaded pistol, three spare magazines that were also fully loaded, a knife and a bullet-proof vest. El was also wearing a security jacket although he is not believed to work as a security guard. Due to a 2004 state conviction for possessing firearms without permits, El is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition," the DOJ announced.
El is facing 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist movements, describes the sovereign citizen movement on its website.
"Sovereigns hold truly bizarre, complex, antigovernment beliefs that are rooted in racism and anti-Semitism," SPLC explained. "They believe they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes. They participate in protests against governments or use "paper terrorism" - filing bogus lawsuits and fake liens on properties - to carry out their mission of disorder. Sometimes, they get violent."