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Former neo-Nazi leader arrested in 'swatting' scheme said to target cabinet member

Andrew Buncombe
Anti-Nazi protesters have appeared at white supremacists rallies across the country: Getty

A former neo-Nazi leader from Texas has been arrested and charged for allegedly making phony bomb threats that included as their target a onetime member of Donald Trump’s cabinet.

John Denton, 26, was detained in Virginia for his alleged role in a series of so-called “swatting” events. These involved making hoax calls to local law enforcement to summon a police response.

Prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, said the targets of the bogus bomb threats included a predominantly African American church, former homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

Denton has been identified as a former leader of a group called Atomwaffen Division, which has been linked to multiple killings.

Authorities said the group is seeking to incite a race war.

Mr Denton, from the Texas city of Montgomery, is one of several alleged Atomwaffen members to face federal charges in recent months and is the second person charged in Alexandria in relation to the swatting calls in Virginia.

According to court documents that were made public on Wednesday,

Mr Denton also chose two specific targets in the swatting scheme: the New York offices of ProPublica, an online investigative news organisation and one of its journalists.

The affidavit said Mr Denton was angry at ProPublica and the journalist for exposing his role as an Atomwaffen leader.

Mr Denton admitted to an undercover FBI agent that he participated in the swatting calls to ProPublica and the ProPublica journalist, and used a voice changer when he made calls, according to the affidavit.

The swatting calls occurred in 2018 and 2019. Members of the conspiracy conducted more than 100 swatting calls throughout the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, the court filings claimed.

The affidavit said Mr Denton was a founding member of Atomwaffen Division who used the names “Rape” and “Tormentor” in online conversations while holding a day job as a mortuary worker.

Earlier this year, former Old Dominion University student John William Kirby Kelley was charged in the swatting scheme.

It it not known whether Mr Denton has yet to enter a plea.

Additional reporting Associated Press

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