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Extremist Group Illegally Promotes Security Services Across U.S.

Mayhem Solutions Group, a border-focused antigovernment extremist organization, illegally promotes its private security and investigation services. The group disregards legal orders ordering them to stop advertising and has a history of omitting facts about personnel and the company’s legal history on license applications, documents show.

The antigovernment extremist Mayhem Solutions Group (MSG) has faced multiple complaints and legal judgements for illegally advertising unlicensed private security and investigation services in states where MSG has not obtained licenses – and continued to omit its troubled legal history in applications for new licenses – according to documents Hatewatch obtained. 

MSG’s website hosts pages advertising private security and investigation services for multiple cities in nearly every state in the U.S. The pages claim MSG is present in whichever city the page is advertising. They also claim MSG employs “experts at protecting all types of buildings and business properties in” those cities. Steve Amitay, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Security Companies, told Hatewatch, “There are about 40 states that require a license or other state authorization to provide security services.” MSG has advertised in all 50 states at various points. Regulations on state-by-state private investigation services are less clear. 
The sites are uniform other than the city and state, which change. They feature promises of “advanced technology,” a free-to-license image of burning wood during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon, and a link to a BuzzFeed YouTube video about private investigators. MSG offers private security guard services and private investigations. A PDF from its website says MSG employs open-source intelligence and surveillance, investigates suspected infidelity among romantic partners, looks into corporate fraud, and conducts background checks, among other investigative services. 

The advertising works. Hatewatch obtained a publicly available email solicitation from the Lewiston City Hall for private security services at the facility’s parking garage. Lewiston officials sent the email to MSG, among other private security organizations. 

Hatewatch requested all emails and proposals related to MSG’s bid to provide the security services. Lewiston City Hall’s deputy city administrator Brian O’Malley said there are no records of MSG responding to the city’s request. 

O’Malley explained that the “City sent out the request for bids, more than likely a google [sic] search was done for security companies doing business in Maine.” O’Malley then emailed a link to the Lewiston, Maine, page on MSG’s website, calling it the “google [sic] search link.” 

Wilson told an investigator in North Carolina that once he receives work, he subcontracts the work to someone licensed in the state. This is illegal, according to North Carolina regulators. 

The extent to which MSG subcontracts private security and investigation services, and the amount which MSG makes for these services, remains unclear. The average hourly wage of a private investigator is $28.56, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

MSG officials did not respond to requests for comment. 

Florida denials 

Based in Arizona, MSG runs reconnaissance missions on the U.S.-Mexico border. Border activists have photographed MSG president Shawn Wilson at the border in body armor. Wilson has accused President Joe Biden of complicity in a “migrant invasion,” railed against global elites and called for the arrest of the entire Democratic Party over supposed “treason.” 

Hatewatch was only able to confirm that MSG has private security and investigation licenses in Arizona. The only state in which MSG currently does not advertise is Florida. Through a public information request, Hatewatch obtained documents showing Florida denied two of MSG’s requests for licenses after multiple complaints regarding their unlicensed advertising in the state. 

The documents also contain all files pertaining to MSG’s application for licensure and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) decision to deny the applications. FDACS is the agency that regulates private investigation and security firms in Florida. 

FDACS first received complaints against MSG for “advertising in Florida without a license” on Jan. 22, 2021, the documents show. That investigation resulted in a “$100.00 fine issued and paid by” MSG. FDACS received another complaint on Sept. 21, 2021. The second investigation resulted in MSG paying a $250 fine. 

After these first two complaints and fines, an MSG officer named Daniel Langlois applied for licenses to conduct private investigations and security services in Florida in April 2022. FDACS denied these applications in August 2022. 

The files show FDACS found that MSG omitted Wilson’s role as MSG’s president in its initial application. MSG updated Wilson’s role in an amendment. But FDACS also found Langlois’ “criminal history” required “additional information to show” it did “not disqualify [MSG] from licensure.” 

Langlois never provided the additional information, according to the files. 

In October and November 2022, Florida residents complained to FDACS that MSG was still advertising in Florida after the agency denied their licenses. 

FDACS investigator Shawn Nichols began investigating MSG that November. Nichols found the organization was advertising services in Florida on its social media and website after FDACS had denied the applications. The file shows MSG continued advertising in over 100 Florida cities, according to Nichols’ investigation. 

Nichols also found that “On July 14, 2022, [MSG] posted an image of the State of Florida flag as part of an advertisement for regulated services, clearly showing the State Seal.” 

In December 2022, Nichols wrote that MSG “the respondent is in violation of 493 statutes,” the portion of Florida law that governs private security and investigations businesses. These violations were “Operating/Advertising After License Denial,” “Advertising Without License Number,” and “Use of State Seal” without authorization, according to the file. 

MSG faced fines totaling $700 for the violations. FDACS issued the fines in a January complaint, which FDACS senior attorney Tobey Schultz signed. FDACS then issued a final order requiring MSG to pay the fines on March 14. 

On May 1, Joseph Rosenberger filed an application to replace Langlois as MSG’s registered agent in Florida. 
The Florida documents show MSG’s president Shawn Wilson claimed on a follow-up application FDACS received on May 18 that MSG had never had a similar license “acted against,” including fines or reprimands. This is not true.

MSG has faced multiple complaints in North Carolina and at least one in Tennessee for practicing or advertising private security and investigation services. 

Hatewatch contacted Schultz about the apparent falsehood and described the North Carolina complaints and investigations. Schultz said the apparent mistruth could “potentially” constitute another violation, but he would need to investigate it further. “It certainly would be something that we would look into.” 

Further complaints

Hatewatch requested the case files for both the North Carolina and Tennessee complaints. Tennessee did not deliver the documents due to the state’s laws requiring that requesters have personal residency in the state before public information can be requested. However, a publicly available document from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance shows MSG has a violation for “Unlicensed activity” from Jan. 11, 2021, which resulted in a $250 civil fine.

The file from North Carolina shows the state’s Private Protective Services Board (PPSB) began investigating MSG after a someone in North Carolina lodged the first complaint against the group in November 2020 for advertising private security services without state registration. 

PPSB investigator Andrew Martino confirmed MSG offered work in North Carolina by speaking to them through its Facebook page, according to screenshots in the file. 

The PPSB sent Wilson a cease-and-desist order dated Nov. 24, 2020, the file shows. The file also contains PPSB’s first interview with Wilson, in which Wilson promised to abide by the order. 

Wilson also claimed a third-party company did his advertising. However, the advertising is hosted on MSG’s site. 

Martino concluded that Wilson appeared “to be abiding by the cease and desist [sic] order.” 

In April 2021, another individual filed a complaint against MSG for the same reason. The complaint “was heard by the NC Private Protective Services Board and the Board issued a cease and desist to Mayhem,” according to the file. 

The file shows another individual filed a complaint in February 2022 which led to another investigation for the same offense. 

Martino once again investigated MSG. He called Wilson on May 12, 2022, according to the file. “Wilson stated he does not work in North Carolina and only subcontracts work out he obtains with a third-party agency that is licensed in North Carolina,” the investigator wrote. 

Martino wrote in the file that he “discussed with Mr. Wilson why he was still in violation of NC state law” and “explained … he is not the subcontractor, the subcontractor is the person or company” MSG hires.  

Martino offered Wilson three options to become compliant with North Carolina law. These were to obtain a license, “scrub his website and all social media sites advertising work in NC,” and “stop accepting and advertising work in NC and completely obey” the cease-and-desist order.

Wilson “asked if he could obtain a license without residing in the State of North Carolina.” Martino said yes. 

Wilson said he would call Martino “to discuss” the license. Martino wrote that Wilson never called nor “answered any phone calls since.”

“This is the second time Mr. Wilson has disobeyed a cease and desist,” Martino concluded. 

Paul Sherwin, director of PPSB, told Hatewatch that MSG never responded after that interaction. MSG also never pursued a license in North Carolina, although the complaints against MSG would not necessarily have prevented licensure. 

Sherwin wrote in a memorandum in the file that on June 16, 2022, the PPSB “Board directed its attorney, Jeff Gray, to file a complaint for injunctive relief … against Shawn Wilson and Mayhem Solutions Group, LLC, after an investigation found Wilson was continuing to hold himself out as engaging in a private protective services profession or activity in North Carolina.” 

But Gray advised the board against filing the complaint because “the court lacked personal jurisdiction” over Wilson and MSG because “Wilson and his company did not at the time, nor ever, have a physical presence in North Carolina,” Sherwin said in the memorandum.

“Wilson and Mayhem Solutions Group, LLC, remain under a cease-and-desist order and this matter is considered closed,” Sherwin wrote in the memorandum.

Sherwin told Hatewatch that PPSB was interested in pursuing action against MSG, but “couldn’t get a court a court order because [MSG] doesn’t actually exist in North Carolina.”

He is not aware of a way for state agencies to prevent strategies like the one MSG is pursuing. Sherwin also said he was aware regulatory boards from other states were looking into similar claims against MSG.

James Perry, consumer services coordinator for the National Consumers League’s (NCL), explained that it can be difficult for state-level agencies to act against those who commit illegal activity other states. 

Perry, who advocates for consumers in his role, said that even if an agency can halt operations in one state, as Florida did, such organizations can often continue operations in others.  

Perry said that if consumers or agencies wanted to stop MSG’s nationwide advertising, they should “reach out” to the “Federal Trade Commission to try to get the site shut down.” 

Freddy Cruz contributed to this report.

Photo illustration by SPLC

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