John Huggins Sentenced to 27 Months in Federal Prison for Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device
SALT LAKE CITY—John Huggins, 48, of Tremonton, Utah, who pleaded guilty in February to possession of an unregistered destructive device, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
According to the plea agreement, Huggins admitted that in July 2014 he possessed a partially assembled explosive device. He also agreed that he had the knowledge and the materials necessary, including an explosive substance, to readily assemble the device into a functioning explosive device.
Huggins was charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device; possession of an explosive by a restricted person; and unlawful distribution of information relating to the manufacture and use of explosives or destructive devices in an indictment returned in July 2014. The indictment followed an investigation by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Utah Department of Public Safety, and the Tremonton Police Department.
According to a sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors, law enforcement officers received information from a confidential informant that Huggins was planning to use explosives to target the Tremonton Police Department. The FBI then made contact with the defendant through another confidential informant. This confidential informant met with the defendant and purchased a thumb drive containing references on how to start and train militias, and how to produce explosives. An undercover agent, posing as a representative of an anti-government militia group, was introduced to the defendant and told Huggins he was looking for someone who could make explosives and train people in his group. Huggins responded affirmatively that he could do that, according to the sentencing memorandum. Huggins described what he could do and expressed an extreme dislike of law enforcement based on prior interactions with police officers.
During a second meeting with the undercover agent, Huggins went to great lengths to convince the undercover agent that he could build explosives capable of killing people. The defendant offered to come and train the undercover agent’s group for a month for a fee. Huggins also presented and sold a notebook to the undercover agent. The notebook included drawings detailing explosives production and writings on topics such as explosive theory and how to produce different types of explosives.
“The defendant was a skilled and motivated explosives expert who was willing to train and manufacture explosives for an anti-government militia group,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum.
Huggins was arrested in July 2014. According to court filings, he admitted that he was meeting with a man be believed to be a member of a militia extremist group. He admitted that although he did not provide the undercover agent with an explosive device at their meeting, he did have an inert explosive device in his trailer that he planned to show the undercover agent. He admitted that the device would need to be loaded first to become a bomb, but that all of the necessary components to fully assemble the explosive device were at his residence.
A further search of the defendant’s trailer yielded notebooks containing what appeared to be a diary with entries ranging from anti-government ideology to a system to watch and track police officers.
U.S. District Judge David Nuffer also ordered Huggins to serve 36 months of supervised release at the conclusion of his prison sentence. Federal prosecutors dismissed two counts from the indictment at Thursday’s sentencing hearing as a part of the plea agreement reached with Huggins.