The Crime and Investigation
In 1995, ATF received intelligence that Phoenix Viper Militia not only possessed illegal weapons, but also planned bombing attacks. ATF infiltrated the militia and learned of a scheme to target and kill ATF and other law enforcement officers. Viper members participated in training and tactical exercises in the desert, where they used explosive devices and machine guns. The group also recorded instructional videos about how to destroy buildings, including ATF's office and other federal buildings in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Arrest and Adjudication
In July 1996, ATF agents arrested 12 Viper Militia members and seized 50 machine guns, blasting caps, black powder, bomb-making chemicals, 1,200 pounds of ammonium nitrate and thousands of rounds of ammunition. A federal grand jury indicated all 12 individuals on firearms and explosives charges. Ten pled guilty, while two others were found guilty at trial. Sentencing ranged from five years probation to 10 years imprisonment.