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Border Patrol Militia Commander Convicted of Firearms Violations

The self-described commander who led armed militia patrols last year in Texas and had bomb-making chemicals in his motel room was convicted of four federal firearms related charges.

Kevin “KC” Lyndel Massey opted to be tried in front of a judge, instead of a jury, in what appears to be among the first federal prosecutions of militia members who decide to take the law into their own hands and get involved in armed border patrols.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen found Massey guilty on Wednesday of four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The militia leader faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced early next year.

Before the trial in U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, the judge twice refused to dismiss the charges after Massey and his defense attorney unsuccessfully argued that it should be unconstitutional for the federal government to have laws barring felons from possessing firearms.

Massey, 48, of Quinlan, Texas, was identified by authorities as a member of “Rusty’s Rangers” militia, also known as “Rusty’s Regulators.” The rag-tag militia group set up a base camp called “Camp Lone Star” near Brownsville, Texas, promising to shoot or arrest anyone they caught illegally entering the United States.

Things turned potentially deadly on Aug. 31 when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired at and wounded John Frederick Foerster, another member of the “Rusty’s Rangers” militia, who initially refused to drop his firearm.

Federal prosecutors didn’t go after Massey and Foerster for their armed militia patrol activity and its inherent dangers to federal and local law enforcement patrolling the border. Rather, prosecutors got an indictment against the two militia members because both were convicted felons -- both with burglary convictions -- who couldn’t legally possess firearms.

Authorities found three handguns and a rifle in Massey’s possession. Likewise, they found Foerster in possession of two firearms.

After that incident, agents searched Massey’s motel room and discovered ammonium nitrate and fuel which they said could have been combined to make a potent explosive device. But because an actual bomb had not been assembled, Massey was not charged with illegal possession of those components.

Foerster pleaded guilty on March 23 to a single count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Court documents indicate he entered a “cold plea,” meaning he didn’t agree to testify against Massey or strike any other kind of a deal with federal authorities. He is in custody, awaiting sentencing.

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