On a rural plot of land in central Florida, surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by two pit bulls, Marcus Faella prepared his small band of neo-Nazi skinheads for what he considered an “inevitable race war.”
On a rural plot of land in central Florida, surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by two pit bulls, Marcus Faella prepared his small band of neo-Nazi skinheads for what he considered an “inevitable race war.” The skinheads stockpiled guns and rations, trained regularly with weapons and explosives, practiced knife-throwing, hand-to-hand combat and other martial skills, and plotted violence to bring attention to their group, the American Front.
What Faella didn’t know was that an informant had infiltrated the group and become a full, “patched” member. For more than a year, the informant documented the paramilitary training and, allegedly, other illegal activities directed by Faella.
On May 4, FBI agents arrested Faella, 39, and his wife, Patricia, 36. Twelve other American Front members were taken into custody in the following days. All are accused of participating in illegal paramilitary training, and eight are accused of conspiracy to shoot at, within or into a building. Faella is also charged with directing gang activities and leading paramilitary training.
Founded in the late 1980s, the American Front has long been associated with violence. The group began to fade in the late 1990s, but charismatic skinhead organizer David Lynch, one of the founders, led a major resurgence that began in 2007. Lynch, however, was murdered by an unknown attacker on March 2, 2011, in his Citrus Heights, Calif., home, and the group seems to have shriveled since then. Most of its active members today are, apparently, in Florida.
A law enforcement affidavit portrays a group and its leader preparing for war on Faella’s 10-acre plot located in St. Cloud, just south of Orlando, and abutting the sprawling woodlands and wetlands of the Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area. Faella, it says, was determined to turn his property into an “Aryan Compound” where all American Front members could live when the U.S government collapses. The entrance was fortified with three entrenchments built of railroad timbers, cement pilings and other building materials. In the Faellas’ mobile home, the American Front leader had reinforced the walls and cut “firing ports.” Members made body armor and ghillie suits to conceal themselves. And the group was storing ammunition, water and military Meals Ready to Eat.
Faella believed a race war would begin within a few years and “stated his intent during the race war is to kill Jews, immigrants, and other minorities,” the affidavit says. On the shooting range, members fired at jugs of water, and Faella told them to “visualize the jugs being nigger’s [sic] heads.”
This February, Faella started planning to “cause a disturbance” at City Hall in Orlando “so the media would report on it and bring new members to AF.” The group also planned to start an altercation with anarchists who were scheduled to demonstrate in Melbourne on May 1.
Faella hosted American Front members from around the country for training sessions. In July 2011, a national meeting of the group was held at a North Florida compound, and a member of the Missouri National Guard, who was also a patched member of the American Front, taught combat techniques. At one training session in February, Faella reported that a chapter in Oregon was expanding and that members were purchasing AK-47 assault rifles and conducting paramilitary training.
In late April, Faella became suspicious and asked the informant for his cell phone, which, the affidavit suggests, contained incriminating photographs taken at the compound. Surrounded by other members and toting a 9 mm pistol, the leader looked at the informant and said, “If I find out any of you are informants, I will fucking kill you.” The informant fled, and the roundup of members began several days later.
In addition to the Faellas, others arrested were: John Wyczlinski, 33, of Venice; Verlin C. Lewis, 40, of Lynn Haven; Mark McGowan, 29, and Jennifer McGowan, 25, of Canaveral Groves; Christopher Brooks, 27, and Dylan Rettenmaier, 25, of Palm Bay; Diane Stevens, 28, Dustin Perry, 21, and Richard Stockdale, 23, all of Kissimmee; and Paul Jackson, 25, and Kent McLellan, 22, both of St. Cloud. Another person charged has not yet been publicly identified.