A white supremacist and former leader of the group Atomwaffen Divsion is being charged with participating in a prolific swatting conspiracy. Texan John Cameron Denton, 26, was arrested Wednesday for conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, interstate threats to injure, according to The Department of Justice.
This was a group effort, authorities said. Participants allegedly included a pair of co-conspirators who lived outside of the United States, and a U.S. citizen (“Individual 1”) who is charged in state court but is cooperating with investigators, authorities said in a criminal complaint.
Targets included a cabinet official living in Northern Virginia; Old Dominion University; and Alfred Street Baptist Church, prosecutors said. Calls affected 134 law enforcement agencies, and were primarily made in November and December of 2018, investigators said.
Denton is singled out as the driving force behind the swatting of ProPublica and one of its journalists. He went by the monikers “Rape,” “Death,” and “Tormentor.” You might already know of him, actually. The outlet published an article in 2018 about white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division after a member of this organization was charged in an alleged homophobic, antisemitic murder.
Well, as part of this report, ProPublica outed Denton as the group’s honcho:
John Cameron Denton, based on interviews and the material obtained by ProPublica, comes across as something of a cult leader. Lately he has been pushing for Atomwaffen members to pool money and purchase land in rural areas so they can “get the fuck off the grid,” and begin implementing their revolutionary agenda. The former member said Denton envisions using this network of Atomwaffen compounds to launch attacks against targets in the U.S.
“No comment,” Denton said when confronted at a concert in a FRONTLINE report.
According to authorities, the ProPublica office in New York City was swatted about a month later by a caller identified himself as Atomwaffen Division member “James Mason.”
“The caller said he had multiple pipe bombs, an AR-15, one hostage, and a dead body,” said the criminal complaint. “The caller said he would begin shooting at police once they arrived.”
The New York Police Department sent about a dozen cops, but they determined it didn’t turn out to be a credible threat.
According to authorities, Denton pushed for an unnamed journalist to be separately swatted. One of the foreign co-conspirators called it in while Denton and Individual 1 listened, investigators said. This caller pretended to be the journalist, and “stated that he shot his wife with an M16” and was going to shoot any officers who approached his residence. Law enforcement responded to the home, and had the journalist and his wife put in separate police cruisers during the investigation. Investigators later released them back into their home.
Investigators said Denton spoke to an undercover FBI agent at his home. The defendant allegedly admitted the crimes, and tactics.
DENTON also specifically mentioned the swatting of ProPublica to the undercover agent. DENTON stated that he swatted ProPublica and the entire building had to be evacuated. He also told the undercover agent that he participated in the swatting of the Victim’s home.
The defendant allegedly said if he was “raided” for this, then it would be good for his group because this swatting “would be seen as a top-tier crime.”
Online records don’t name an attorney for Denton as of Wednesday afternoon.
[Screengrab via FRONTLINE]