Prosecutors allege Jan. 6 defendant organized 'arsenal' of weapons in Virginia

Bart Jansen
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – A member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol helped coordinate an "arsenal" of weapons and other supplies at a Northern Virginia hotel, according to prosecutors seeking to detain him pending trial.

Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, allegedly coordinated at least three teams called Quick Response Force teams with an arsenal of firearms at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., according to the filing Tuesday by federal prosecutors. Another defendant in the case, Kelly Meggs of Dunnellon, Florida, allegedly dropped off weapons, according to the filing.

"The day before the attack on the Capitol, on January 5, Meggs and his Florida team dropped off at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases, and suitcases filled with ammunition with their QRF team,” the prosecution filing said. “A second QRF team from North Carolina consisted of four men who kept their rifles ready to go in a vehicle parked in the hotel lot.”

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Later, Vallejo and other members of the Arizona team wheeled in bags and large bins of weapons, ammunition and essential supplies to last 30 days, according to the filing. The group prepared for a siege to last through Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, prosecutors said. Vallejo wasn't charged with bringing the weapons into the city.

"Vallejo played a central role in the plot to oppose by force American laws governing the transfer of presidential power," the filing said.

Meggs has pleaded not guilty. Lawyers for Vallejo and Meggs didn't immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, left, is shown with an unidentified colleague wheeling containers of what federal prosecutors allege were firearms, ammunition and essential supplies into a Comfort Inn in Northern Virginia on Jan. 5, 2021. The images were taken from a surveillance camera included in federal government’s memo Jan. 18, 2022, arguing for Vallejo's detention while awaiting trial for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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Vallejo is one of more than 725 people charged in the Capitol attack, which injured about 140 police officers and temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes certifying President Joe Biden's victory.

The Oath Keepers is an extremist group recruited from former military and law enforcement officers. More than 20 members of the group were charged with conspiracy in planning, organizing and executing the Capitol attack, including 11 charged with seditious conspiracy. Members wore paramilitary gear while storming into the Capitol.

Conspiracy charges, which carry a five-year sentence, allege at least two people planned a criminal act and at least one took steps to carry it out. Seditious conspiracy, which carries a 20-year sentence, alleges that participants sought to overthrow the government, hinder the execution of federal law or seize federal property.

Two members of Oath Keepers who pled guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of Congress acknowledged bringing guns to a Northern Virginia hotel. James Dolan of Wellington, Florida, brought an M4 rifle to the Comfort Inn, according to court records. Mark Grods of Mobile, Alabama, brought a shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition for both, according to court records. Both await sentencing while cooperating with the government, with Dolan facing at least five years in prison and Grods facing at least four years, under federal sentencing guidelines.

Vallejo and Stewart Rhodes, the national leader of Oath Keepers, were charged last week with seditious conspiracy, along with nine others who had already been charged with conspiracy, as federal prosecutors ratcheted up charges in the case.

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Vallejo spoke on a podcast Jan. 6, 2021, describing the group’s plans, according to the filing.

“The question is: Is there a shot heard round the world moment?” Vallejo is quoted as saying in the filing. “The possibility definitely exists.”

The filing Tuesday against Vallejo came in preparation for a detention hearing Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine, who appointed him a public defender last week. Prosecutors argued that he was too dangerous to release before trial.