RCMP say a Manitoba army reservist accused of being a member of a neo-Nazi group has gone missing. Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, shown in this undated RCMP handout photo was reported missing to police on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-RCMP

FBI arrest former Canadian reservist, suspected neo-Nazi, in United States

Patrik Mathews and two others, Brian Lemley and William Bilbrough IV, were taken into custody

A former Canadian Forces engineer who disappeared after he was accused of being a neo-Nazi has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Patrik Mathews and two others, Brian Lemley and William Bilbrough IV, both U.S. citizens, were taken into custody on Thursday morning and were scheduled to appear in a Maryland court in the afternoon to face federal charges, American prosecutors said.

Mathews is facing one charge of transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony and one charge of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Thursday’s court appearance will be the first time Mathews has been seen by the public since he disappeared at the end of August amid allegations of having been a recruiter for the right-wing hate group called The Base.

At the time, Mathews was a combat engineer with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg, though the military said then it was investigating his alleged links to The Base and fast-tracking his request to be released from the Canadian Armed Forces.

READ MORE: Reservist with alleged links to neo-Nazis relieved of duties, reported missing

The RCMP were also reportedly conducting their own investigation, though the Mounties have not confirmed the report. They had previously seized a number of weapons from a house in Beausejour, Man., about 60 kilometres east of Winnipeg, where Mathews lived.

Shortly after he disappeared, Mathews’s truck was found abandoned on a rural property in southern Manitoba near the U.S. border, prompting speculation the now 27-year-old had entered the United States. The RCMP said it was treating his disappearance as a missing-person case.

The charges against Mathews were laid out in a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland on Thursday, which alleges Mathews crossed illegally from Manitoba to Minnesota on Aug. 19.

Mathews is alleged to have made his way to Michigan. Prosecutors say on Aug. 30, Lemley and Bilbrough, who are also described as members of The Base, picked him up and took him to Maryland. Lemley, 33, previously served in the U.S. Army.

On Nov. 3, according to the criminal allegations, the three men drove from Virginia to Maryland where Bilbrough, 19, lived. Lemley and Mathews eventually continued to Delaware, “where Lemley rented an apartment in which the two have resided since that time.”

Lemley and Mathews are then alleged to have made “a functioning assault rifle” using different firearms parts in December while all three men are accused of having made a psychedelic drug known as DMT.

“Furthermore, Lemley, Mathews and Bilbrough discussed The Base’s activities and spoke about other members of the organization,” according to the prosecutors. “Mathews also allegedly showed the assault rifle to Bilbrough, who examined the assault rife and returned it to Mathews.”

The U.S. Attorney goes on to allege that Lemley and Mathews purchased 1,650 rounds of ammunition earlier this month, “travelled from Delaware to a gun range in Maryland, where they shot the assault rifle” and retrieved a bulletproof vest.

Both Lemley and Bilbrough face charges for transporting and harbouring Mathews, while Lemley is charged with transporting a machine gun in interstate commerce and for providing a firearm and ammunition to Mathews and transporting a firearm with the intent to commit a felony.

The statement from prosecutors does not indicate what felony they believed Lemley and Mathews were planning to commit, but the New York Times reported they had talked about travelling to a pro-gun rally next week in nearby Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a tweet Wednesday there was credible intelligence from law-enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the demonstration planned for Monday.

He said the threats included extremist rhetoric similar to what has been seen before other major incidents, such as the violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, in which members of white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups clashed with counter-protesters.

A self-identified white supremacist rammed his car into the counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.

In Canada, the accusations against Mathews in August and his subsequent disappearance put a spotlight on concerns that neo-Nazis, white supremacists and right-wing extremists were attempting to infiltrate the Canadian Armed Forces.

While the military maintains incidents of Forces members associating with right-wing extremism or white supremacy are isolated, concerns about their presence have been heightened in recent years thanks to several high-profile incidents and an internal military-intelligence report.

The issue first came to public light when several sailors associated with the far-right Proud Boys group disrupted a Mi’kmaq ceremony in Halifax in 2017. A military-intelligence report in 2018 said 30 active service members belonged to hate groups or had made racist statements.

The report also revealed some extremist groups have encouraged their members to seek military training and recruit service members.

The Department of National Defence later revealed that more than a dozen members of the Canadian Armed Forces identified in the report were warned, disciplined or ordered to take counselling, but were allowed to remain in uniform.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.

— with files from Jim Bronskill

— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Green Party pins Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding hopes on Istace

Leader Furstenau in town for the announcement of Chemainus businessman’s candidacy

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

Gas leak occurs in the construction zone on Chemainus Road Saturday

FortisBC makes repairs while traffic rerouted through River Road

Original drums recovered amid offers to replace stolen set

Chemainus United Church grateful for actions of a caring community

Weeding, pruning, deadheading and battling the slugs

‘Tis the season for Chemainus Communities in Bloom

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read