A Boogaloo Boi holds a rifle at a rally at the Capitol Building on October 17, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)
The anti-government Boogaloo movement just lost a source of firepower, after one of their own was indicted on federal charges for providing the Hawaiian-shirt-clad insurgents with accessories that could transform their regular AR-style rifles into illegal machine guns.
Federal authorities say Timothy Watson, 30, was part of the Boogaloo movement, which fantasizes about a bloody uprising or second civil war, and sold adherents “drop-in automate submission distribution sears” that he manufactured using a 3D printer.
Watson advertised the devices under various codes, in an apparent effort to elude authorities, selling them as “wall hangers” that could hold “keys, lanyards, hats, jackets, coats, and other small items.” In reality, the devices customize firearms to allow users to unleash a hail of gunfire with a single pull of the trigger instead of having to manually reload between shots.
Watson was arrested earlier this month and on Monday was indicted on four counts, including conspiring to commit offenses against the government and engaging in the manufacture of illegal machine guns.
The Boogaloo is a sprawling online network; one of the Facebook pages associated with the movement amassed over 10,000 followers before it was taken down by the social media company. But the charging documents in Watson’s case are another reminder that, though the network is large, the circle of hardcore believers willing to take up arms for the cause may be quite small.
Watson was in touch with a number of other individuals who have also been implicated in recent conspiracies or crimes. In early January, when the Boogaloo movement was still in its nascent stages, a man named Steven Carrillo contacted Watson to buy a “Portable Wall Hanger.” Five months later, federal authorities say that Carrillo, an Air Force staff sergeant who was involved in the Boogaloo movement, conducted a deadly ambush attack on a federal security officer in Oakland, fled the scene, and later killed a sheriff’s deputy who was attempting to arrest him.
Watson also sold four of the accessories to a Boogaloo Boi in Minnesota. That individual was arrested in the summer after he and another Boogaloo unwittingly tried to sell weapons to an undercover agent posing as a high-ranking member of Hamas (a designated foreign terrorist organization).
The Minnesota man has since become a “cooperating defendant” in the Watson case, and in another recent case involving a Boogaloo Boi in Texas who was arrested on federal rioting charges for shooting at a police precinct during the Minneapolis riots. The individual told federal authorities that he’d learned about Watson’s company through advertising in Boogaloo Facebook groups.
Additionally, Watson appeared familiar with some of the core grievances and memes of the Boogaloo movement. For example, 21-year-old Duncan Lemp, who was known in anti-government circles online, became a martyr for the movement when he was killed in March by Maryland police during a no-knock raid. A couple days after Lemp’s death, Watson updated his “portable wall hanger” website to state that 10% of all sales from the month of March would be donated to a GoFundMe campaign called “Justice for Duncan Lemp.”