A Bad Operation Gone Worse
Outpost of Freedom
August 6, 2015
Part 1- The Characters
Three men from Arizona have been charged with “to intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together, to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(ii)(II).”
One of the three has also been charged with, that he “did knowingly possess a firearm, in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, that is, Conspiracy with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, as alleged in Count 1 of this Indictment, a felony prosecutable in a Court of the United States.
Parris Frazier is charged with both counts. Robert Deatherage (aka Anthony Winchester) and Erik Foster are charged only on the first, cocaine, count.
We will begin with a look at the character of the main players, in this rather interesting story of the arrest of three men, who are professed patriots.
The ringleader was Parris Frazier, of Arizona. He is well known around some of the border operations, though he has been asked to leave some of the groups because he seems to have ideas, expectations, and methods which are beyond the reasoned thinking of those running full, or nearly full, time operations.
He had visited one group, probably the best continually working operation on the Arizona-border, and was asked to leave after three days. He seemed apprehensive, perhaps even scared that something might happen when on an operation and would frequently take a break in the shade, and wait for the others to return. One of the sources described him as possibly bi-polar. He had been known to change moods, without provocation, described as someone who “would go off” in a minute, and then become calm and sedate, in the next minute. Another source claimed that after a few miles, Frazier asked someone to carry some of his gear. Physically, at about 50 years of age, he was not up to the task.
Frazier had gone to the Bundy Ranch, April 2014. While there, if given an assignment, he would take charge and move the others working with him to completion. However, when left in charge in one situation where there was no oversight, he displayed unnecessary and offensive behavior by assuming that some friends of the Bundys, who were retrieving their cattle with cattle trailers, must be BLM and gave them a hard time, without verifying who they were. This was a rather embarrassing situation for the militia, though those competent people in charge were able to reconcile the situation.
It would appear, then, that though a good worker when in charge, he is not a stable leader, nor is he competent, as it appears that he does not think through the situation, or the consequence of his actions. He often talked of “kills” along the border, though most who know him doubt that he has the fortitude or the ability necessary to accomplish such a task. He has bragged about kills while in the service, though it appears that he was in an artillery unit and his entire service was stateside.
More than likely, when he conducts his own border operations, they are simple larks in the desert, with no useful purpose. He might best be described as a “wanna be”. As a result, many patriots within of the border protection community chose to maintain a distance from him.
His behavior is such that he probably has trouble keeping a group together for very long, which would explain why, after the events that led to his downfall began, he contacted someone he had met on Facebook and made an offer for him to join “something big”. Frazier never used any form of vetting before soliciting participants in any activities.
This irrational approach, bringing someone into some criminal activity, whom he had never met, or had never even tried to vet, demonstrates an irrational behavior that is inconsistent with any aspect of leadership requiring discretion.
Next, we have Robert “Rob” Deatherage (aka Anthony Winchester). It appears that he is an adherent to Frazier, committed to some cause but clearly associate with incompetent leadership. He attended Jon Ritzheimer’s Freedom of Speech Rally (Phoenix Muslim event), in full battle gear.
He has claimed to have been shot while working the border, though he has no wound scars to prove this point. He has also claimed to have made “kills” on the border, though this has not been confirmed by any source.
Deatherage has been close to Frazier for years, though there was a split up during the Bundy Affair that was reconciled a few months later. His military experience was in Navy Search and Rescue, though he has claimed to have made “kills” while in the service.
Erik Foster was from Idaho and he came on the Arizona scene about the time he attended Ritzheimer’s Freedom of Speech Rally. He was looking for a group to join, and by chance crossed paths with Frazier, he always has stories and exploits to impress the unknowing. Apparently, Foster felt that this was the group he should join.
Randon Berg was one of the early participants and participated in the first two Operations, which were cash grabs. He has not been charged federally, since he was not a participant in the third Operation (cocaine), though he may not be in the clear under state law. He had been a friend of Frazier for some time.
Frazier was the ringleader, however, he was not a competent leader, and whether he is a patriot is, at best, questionable, as he appears to be more of a gigolo, and has learned to live off of others, as long as he can, and then moves on to the next one. He simply found easy pickings within the patriot community.
The other two, unfortunately, bought a good line, and never seriously thought of the consequences, nor did they do an honest evaluation of the leader they chose to follow.
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Part 2 – The Introduction
Frazier, Deatherage, and Foster were arrested on July 22, 2015. However, the story begins back in January. Task Force Officer (TFO) John E. Kelly, Federal Bureau of Investigation filed the Criminal Complaint. He acknowledges working “the Phoenix Division FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), squad NS-3, in Phoenix, Arizona. This squad is responsible for investigating many different types of criminal violations including domestic terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, illegal militia activities, and illegal sovereign citizen activities.” We are going to let TFO Kelly tell us most of the story (italicized).
On January 24, 2015, during a “traffic stop” by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Frazier began a conversation with the agents. The agents “mentioned that an informal source had been providing them with information regarding illegal border activities, but they could no longer operate that source. FRAZIER expressed his interest in contacting the source so he could use the source’s information to assist in protecting the border.”
Note that the purpose was to “assist in protecting the border”. Note, also, that this was a “traffic stop”. It does not say “checkpoint”. A traffic stop is when you are pulled over by an officer. I don’t recall that this is a common practice of CBP. Is it possible that they had identified Frazier as someone that they had wanted to set up?
On February 11, Frazier received a phone call from an unnamed individual, though identified later as an “undercover employee” (UCE) of the FBI. He claimed to be the “informal source” that had been mentioned on January 11. The conversation was recorded, though we don’t have the recording. However, what we are told is that the discussion went, immediately, to other than “protecting the border”. Parentheticals are from the Criminal Complaint:
In the conversation, the UCE asked what FRAZIER was looking for so he can start looking for jobs. FRAZIER said that he had a small group of Patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash), but they preferred the cash loads going south. FRAZIER told the UCE that if he provided decent intel on stuff going south (bulk cash), FRAZIER would give the UCE a percentage of whatever is taken. FRAZIER said that his group is a bunch of professionals and none of them are tied up in law enforcement.
It appears that the purpose was to get rich, quick, rather than to protect the border. By this time, Frazier assumed that he was working with a disgruntled cartel member.
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Part 3 – The First Operation
On March 4, in an in-person meeting, Frazier said that he wanted “cash loads going south”, and that he would give the “source” (UCE) 25% of the take. Frazier offered, “if we (his group) have to dispatch (kill) some people, we will dispatch some people. FRAZIER said that his guys are mercenaries and they just want to rip cash. However, he also said that he planned on killing all of the individuals guarding the cash to ensure that his guys go home at night. In addition, FRAZIER offered to kill anyone that the UCE wanted taken out.”
On March 11, in a phone conversation, Frazier said that “he would like GPS coordinates for the job location so he and his guys can get there before the package shows up. FRAZIER said that when the job does go down, ‘it will be very violent and very quick.’ He said that they can’t leave any witnesses.”
On March 25, Frazier and the “source”, in a phone call, hatch the following plan:
The UCE said he is going with his cousin to drop off a vehicle with $20,000. He said that if that gets taken off, it will make the UCE’s uncle mad at the cousin. The UCE said that if he can get the cousin out of the picture, then the UCE will be able to provide bigger stuff that his cousin will get blamed for. The UCE said that his uncle is making the cousin personally drop off the vehicle with the money. The UCE said that he and his cousin are going to drop off the vehicle and leave it so the backpackers can load it and take it up to Phoenix. The UCE said that FRAZIER and his group can get in the vehicle and take the cash before the backpackers arrive so that it makes the UCE’s cousin look like an idiot.
Between this and the next event, on March 29, Frazier tried to enlist another patriot, though he had never met him and had only communicated with Facebook and Facebook PM (explained in Part 1). The other patriot, wisely, declined.
Now we move into the action. On April 2, we have the following first attempt at seizing a “cash load”, and, perhaps, a demonstration of incompetence:
FRAZIER and an associate [unidentified] attempted to steal money from a staged “cartel load vehicle” that contained $8,000. The attempted cash rip was observed by FBI surveillance and captured by video surveillance equipment outside the vehicle and audio/video equipment inside the vehicle. During the rip, FRAZIER and his associate were dressed in camouflage clothing and were wearing facemasks. They also had on tactical vests and were carrying AR-15 style assault rifles with optical sights. Both individuals were observed searching the vehicle; however, the $8,000 in cash was not taken.
FRAZIER said he and another guy searched the load vehicle but didn’t find anything. The UCE tells FRAZIER that the cartel members found $8,000 in the vehicle but it looked like his cousin had pocketed the other $12,000 that was supposed to be there. FRAZIER explained how he and his guy searched through the vehicle for several minutes.
So, after the bungled operation, and, an interesting deception by the UCE, where he claimed that the “cousin” had taken $12,000 and left $8,000, that Frazier could not find. He was going to set up the cousin and get him in trouble with the uncle, but now we have a story line that would have gotten the cousin in trouble, and possibly killed, if it was really Cartel money. However, Frazier, apparently, didn’t even consider the shift in the story, and, perhaps, realize that something was fishy.
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Part 4 – The Second Operation
Now, let’s move into something that sounds more like a gangster movie. On April 9, during a phone call, the following transpired:
FRAZIER asked if the UCE had another job for him. The UCE said he might have something coming up soon. FRAZIER said it looked like the UCE was slowly trying to get his cousin out of the way. The UCE said that was correct. FRAZIER said, “How about I lay an offer out on the table that we just get him out of the way for you.” The UCE asked how they would do that. FRAZIER said he has someone that could take care of it if they could be set up somewhere before the UCE’s cousin arrived. FRAZIER said that they could solidify an ongoing business venture from there. The UCE asked if he is going to have to pay them for killing his cousin and FRAZIER responded, “Yeah, we’ll have to definitely get something monetarily out of it.” FRAZIER said that the UCE would then be in a better position and that his guys are the ones to take care of any other competition that may get in the way of the UCE. FRAZIER said he still can’t believe that they missed the money in the last job. The UCE asked if they want to do one more load vehicle and then take care of his cousin. FRAZIER agreed. FRAZIER said that he is offering the UCE a faster route to get rid of his cousin. FRAZIER said that it won’t be cheap, but it won’t be super expensive. FRAZIER said that he and his guys are mercenaries.
So, now, Frazier is the head of some “mercenaries” and has moved on to “hit” jobs, a hired killer. Frazier has probably never fired on a human being in his life, though he has often claimed that he has.
However, on April 19, the opportunity for Operation #2 begins to come into focus, and Frazier will start looking at taking drugs as well as “cash loads”, in a recorded phone conversation.
The UCE asked if FRAZIER is ready for something on Thursday or Friday. FRAZIER said that those days are good and asks if the UCE would have more intel so FRAZIER can be closer, The UCE said he hopes so, but it depended on what way the backpackers go and when he finds out when they can be there. FRAZIER said that after this job they should meet in person to discuss the other thing (murder for hire) because FRAZIER doesn’t want to talk about that over the phone. FRAZIER again said that Thursday or Friday would work for him because that gives him time to take care of some things and to brief up his guys. FRAZIER asked what kind of impact it would have if he had 3 – 5 guys pick off the load (drug load) as well. The UCE said he is still trying to make his cousin look bad so it would be better if they didn’t take the drugs.
On April 23, this Operation was conducted. This time, Frazier and crew got the “cash load” they had been seeking. It began with a phone call:
The UCE asked if FRAZIER was ready. FRAZIER said that they have been ready. The UCE gave him the latitude and longitude coordinates for where they parked the vehicle. FRAZIER verified that there won’t be anyone out there with the vehicle, but there would be people watching them. FRAZIER said that they aren’t really worried about it getting too hot (with the cartel response); they are worried more about LEO (law enforcement officers) than anything else.
Based upon government observation:
FRAZIER and his associate stole $7300 from a staged “cartel load vehicle.” The cash rip was observed by FBI and Phoenix PD surveillance and captured by video surveillance equipment outside the vehicle and audio/video equipment inside the vehicle.
This was followed by a phone call:
The UCE asked how it went. FRAZIER said there was only $7300. The UCE said his cousin must have taken the rest of the money when he was driving the vehicle down there. The UCE said he’s got to sort everything out. FRAZIER told him to do that and then call if he has another job. The UCE said they should meet up to discuss the other thing (murder for hire).
Two people have confided that they spoke with Frazier during this two month interval and he had told them that he was in a motel in Flagstaff, had just ordered two hookers and some pizza, in an effort to recruit at least those two, and then demonstrate that what he was doing was beginning to pay off. Both sources wisely declined his offer.
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Part 5 – The Third Operation & Bust
It appears that Foster was recruited about this time, perhaps to replace Randon Berg.
Then, in a phone conversation on June 21:
The UCE said he hasn’t been able to get a hold of FRAZIER for a while. FRAZIER said he picked up a job in the Midwest [Flagstaff?] and has been out of town. The UCE said he had everything set up (for the murder for hire) but he was never able to get a hold of FRAZIER. FRAZIER said he had to leave in a hurry for a job and didn’t have his burn phone with him. The UCE asked if they are still going to do stuff. FRAZIER said he was going to ask the UCE the same question. He said he knows they missed the opportunity in California [this is not explained] and told the UCE to tell him if he had any more ideas. The UCE asked if FRAZIER wanted anything else in the meantime while they earned back each other’s trust. FRAZIER asked if the UCE knows of any cash that could be “jumped up on.” The UCE said cash will be hard since it is so hot, but they could do some regular loads that the UCE could buy off of them or sell and then get FRAZIER the money. FRAZIER said they could do that and asked when the next job would be. The UCE said he will start looking. The UCE asked if FRAZIER was willing to take down some loads and FRAZIER said he would like to grab the cash and then wait for the load to show up. The UCE said he won’t be able to get the cash until he sold the load off. FRAZIER clarified that the UCE knew of some loads that they could rip and then get the money from the UCE for the drugs.
So, now we are seeing Frazier getting set up for what turned into the drug possession bust. Then we have a June 28 phone conversation where Operation #3 is beginning to be discussed.
FRAZIER asked what the UCE has. The UCE said he has a load coming up in late July. FRAZIER asked what will be in the vehicle. The UCE said it will be between six to ten kilograms of cocaine, maybe a little more. FRAZIER asked what the UCE is willing to pay for it and the UCE replied that he will pay FRAZIER $15,000 per kilo. FRAZIER said that is good, he just wanted to know the details of where and when with enough time so he could plan. FRAZIER said they will definitely do this one, but then said he wants to talk to his teammates first to make sure everyone was on-board. The UCE said he will be able to pay FRAZIER on delivery of the drugs. They agreed to talk again about it as they get more details. FRAZIER said he is meeting with his group next weekend to discuss everything.
The plan began to come together, as explained in this July 10 phone conversation:
The UCE asked if everything is good. FRAZIER said it is all good on his end. The UCE said that his buddy called him and said he should be driving up the load vehicle on the 19th, 20th, or 21st. The UCE also told FRAZIER that the group will probably use a warehouse located off of Interstate 17. FRAZIER said that works for him. The UCE said he and his buddy would take care of the other guy (entertain the security guard) so FRAZIER didn’t have to worry about him. FRAZIER asked how long he will have for the rip. The UCE said FRAZIER would have some time, but he couldn’t take too long. FRAZIER said he just needs 45 minutes. They discussed finding a place for them to meet up as they got closer to the rip.
More details emerged on July 20, in the following phone conversation:
FRAZIER asked if the UCE has good news for him. The UCE said that the driver will head up to Phoenix on Wednesday (July 22nd ) with the load vehicle. FRAZIER asked what time it will be and the UCE said that they would start driving in the morning and arrive in Phoenix in the afternoon. FRAZIER asked if the UCE has an idea where it will be stashed. The UCE said that it will be in a warehouse area off of I-17. FRAZIER said that is a big area and asked if it would be south of I-10 or north of I-10. The UCE said he doesn’t know yet because they used different places. The UCE asked if FRAZIER was good with it and FRAZIER said yes. FRAZIER said his guys were ready to move right now and they were all good to go. The UCE said he already had the stuff sold off to potential buyers so he could get the money to FRAZIER soon afterward. FRAZIER said that their only concerns are getting the package. FRAZIER said that he already had two spots picked out in the east valley where they can do the exchange with the UCE for the cocaine. The UCE said he will meet up with FRAZIER real quick beforehand and then show FRAZIER the location of the drugs. FRAZIER said that his guys thought it was going down today, but he was good with waiting until Wednesday. The UCE reiterated that he wanted to make sure FRAZIER and his guys (later identified as ROBERT DEATHERAGE and ERIK FOSTER) were good because he has buyers already. FRAZIER asked how much (cocaine) will be there and the UCE said it would most likely be 10 kilos, maybe more. FRAZIER said that was good and they already agreed on a price, so he told the UCE to call him Wednesday morning. FRAZIER said he would meet up with the UCE to have him show him where the drugs are and that his guys will be following them around. He said his guys were ready to go at the drop of a hat. The UCE said he just wanted to make sure it was done nice and professional so they could keep doing it a couple more times in the future. FRAZIER said his guys are good to go. The UCE asked if they’ve done this before and FRAZIER responded that they have. FRAZIER said they’ve done a lot of different things and they have all acquired a body count on different continents. FRAZIER said this will be a walk in the park as long as everything was cool on the UCE’s end and no “heat” was drawn in. FRAZIER said that if “heat” was there, there would be a firefight and that would be the last time they do business together. The UCE said no one will be there.
July 22, 2015, the really big day comes around. Frazier had bought bolt cutters to break the warehouse lock. Everything was a go. He met with the source that morning, in Phoenix,
to discuss final details of the drug rip. FBI surveillance observed FRAZIER, DEATHERAGE and FOSTER follow the UCE in a black Toyota Camry driven by FOSTER to a warehouse located on 39th Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. The Toyota Camry did not have a license plate on the vehicle. Surveillance then observed the Camry drive around the vicinity of the warehouse for approximately 15 minutes in an apparent reconnaissance of the site. Eventually, the Camry containing all three defendants drove up to the warehouse gate and stopped. Surveillance observed FRAZIER and FOSTER exit the Camry and FRAZIER cut the lock on the gate. FRAZIER and FOSTER then proceeded on foot into the gated area of the warehouse. This gated area of the warehouse was under recorded video observation in addition to being observed by FBI surveillance. While under recorded video observation, FRAZIER gained access to a Hyundai Tucson while FOSTER acted as security. The Hyundai Tucson contained one package of actual cocaine weighing approximately one kilogram and nine packages of cocaine stimulant that also weighed approximately one kilogram each. These packages were wrapped in red plastic wrap and secured with packaging tape. While under recorded observation, FRAZIER grabbed six of the packages, including the one containing actual cocaine. Surveillance then observed FRAZIER and FOSTER proceed on foot back to the Camry where DEATHERAGE was waiting in the driver’s seat. The Camry containing the three defendants, drove away from the warehouse at a high rate of speed. As they were departing, FBI SWAT attempted to stop the Camry by pursuing it in several vehicles all of which were flashing their emergency lights and sounding their police sirens. The Camry didn’t yield and continued to flee from FBI SWAT at a high rate of speed. In the interest of public safety, the chase was called off, but surveillance of the Camry was maintained via an FBI aircraft. Surveillance observed one of the subjects throw a bag out of the window of the Camry in the vicinity of 43rd Avenue and Grand Avenue in Phoenix. This bag was eventually recovered by an FBI surveillance team and contained the six packages that had been removed from the Hyundai Tucson by FRAZIER, including the package containing the actual cocaine. Surveillance continued to follow the Camry and observed it pull into a garage of a residence located at on East Anderson Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. FBI SWAT then surrounded the residence and called out all of the occupants, including FRAZIER, DEATHERAGE, and FOSTER who were placed under arrest. The fourth occupant was Frazier’s girlfriend, who was renting the property. Signed written consent to search the property was acquired from the Frazier’s girlfriend and during a subsequent search of the residence, and numerous rifles, assault rifles, and handguns were seized as evidence.
What good story doesn’t have a chase scene? However, it appears that Frazier, et al, failed to scope out the area, for surely they would have found the FBI SWAT vehicles, and the all of the other law enforcement personnel.
In the final scene of what now begins to look like a comedy, we have Frazier waiving Miranda (damned dumb), and telling all — on his buddies. Heck, don’t make them work to get a conviction, just hand it over to them.
Oh, yes, that final scene:
FRAZIER was interviewed after his arrest at the FBI building in Phoenix and the interview was recorded on video and audio. After waiving his Miranda rights, FRAZIER admitted to conducting the drug rip at the warehouse with DEATHERAGE and FOSTER and stated they intended to sell the stolen cocaine to the UCE later that day for a total and splitting the money evenly between the three of them. FRAZIER admitted that during the rip, he was carrying a pistol and had his assault rifle stored in the getaway vehicle. FRAZIER also stated that during the rip DEATHERAGE and FOSTER also had assault rifles and pistols in their possession and that these firearms were among those seized from the East Anderson residence. FRAZIER also admitted that near an intersection with Grand Avenue, while fleeing from the FBI SWAT units, they threw a bag out of the passenger side of the Camry and that this bag contained the stolen drugs.
When we look at the players and their very subjective purpose, for personal gain, we have to wonder whether they can be truly called patriots. A patriot is looking to serve his country, not himself. When the proceeds of their activities go into personal pleasures, rather than improving their mission capabilities, they have removed themselves from the cause and demonstrated that they are simply using the claim of patriotism for their own purposes.
There are lessons to be learned with this story, but most importantly, don’t trust anyone until you have done a thorough job of vetting them, including following someone claiming to be a “source” to see where he goes from the meeting, and then to where he goes to spend the night. That extra effort may save you twenty years of your life.