CLEVELAND, Ohio — (DMN) – Five alleged anarchists have been arrested after a months-long sting operation, charged with plotting to blow up a bridge in the Cleveland area, the FBI announced today. Authorities said the group had been involved in a series of escalating plots that ended with their arrest last night by FBI agents. The sting operation supplied the anarchists with what they thought were “explosives” and bomb-making materials. At no time during the case was the public in danger, the FBI said.
Douglas L. Wright, 26; Brandon L. Baxter, 20; and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force last night, on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. The criminal complaint was filed this morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
According to law enforcement sources, the five were not connected to international terrorism. “The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland,” according to the complaint. The FBI says over the course of several months the accused discussed various targets in and around the Cleveland metropolitan area, with the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge being selected as the target. The bridge crosses over Cuyahoga Valley National Park from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills.
The defendants then conspired to obtain C-4 explosives, contained in two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), to be remotely detonated, the FBI said. “The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views,” said FBI Special Agent Stephen D. Anthony. The five defendants are expected to appear today before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.