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Minuteman Paul Chastain Arrested For Weapons Deal

Militiaman Paul Chastain has been arrested in a drugs-for-weapons deal.

A South Carolina militiaman who apparently wrote earlier this year of the need to counter government tyranny with "brute force" has been arrested for allegedly trading drugs for a machine gun and C-4 plastic explosives.

Authorities in Greenville County arrested Paul T. Chastain, 40, in late July after he allegedly swapped 300 tablets of Dilaudid, a morphine substitute, to undercover police for C-4 plastic explosives and an M-16 automatic rifle. He was charged with possession of an illegal automatic weapon, possession of explosives and drug trafficking.

Officials said others also could be charged.

But they would not detail what they believe Chastain wanted the explosives for. "I think it is safe to say Paul T. Chastain was not planning to go duck-hunting with C-4 explosives and an M-16 rifle," Robert Stewart, who heads the State Law Enforcement Division, told a reporter. "I truly believe lives were saved by this arrest."

Authorities said Chastain is a member of the "South Carolina Minutemen Corps," which they described as a less-than-year-old group with fewer than 20 members. A Web site — which lists Chastain's address and phone number as its point of contact — is run by the "South Carolina Militia Corps."

And an article in Media Bypass, a magazine popular in the antigovernment Patriot movement, was signed by "Lt. Col. Paul T. Chastain Jr., South Carolina militia."

The article, published in February, says that demands for redress from a tyrannical government "will come to nought without a credible threat of force to effect change if need be. Indeed, the only effective check to brute force is force in kind. ..."

Law enforcement officials say Chastain's group operated from a 200-acre campground called Sky Ranch. Built as a fishing and boating retreat in the 1960s, Sky Ranch is now dilapidated and dotted with houses including Chastain's.

Chastain faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.