Two individuals were recently arrested for planning attacks on substations in Baltimore, as a pattern of targeting the U.S.’s electrical infrastructure continues to emerge.
According to law enforcement, Brandon Clint Russell of Florida and Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Maryland were arrested and charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy official.
The Monday announcement came through a joint announcement from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland and the Baltimore field office of the FBI.
Russell is an alleged leader of a Neo-Nazi group and has faced criminal charges in the past.
In 2018, he was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment for possession of an unregistered destructive device and improper storage materials in violation of federal law. He pled guilty to these charges.
According to federal law enforcement, one of Russell’s former roommates had planned to attack power infrastructure.
His roommates were part of a Neo-Nazi organization with Russell and achieved notoriety in May 2017 when one, Devon Arthurs, stabbed to death two of his other roommates after Arthurs converted to Islam. Russell was not home at the time.
The federal government believes that the extremist group Russell belongs to has ties with international organizations. Law enforcement accused Russell of attempting to carry out attacks against electricity grids from at least June 2022 until his arrest.
The government’s complaint asserts that Russell encouraged others to use balloons to short a power transformer in October.
Law enforcement accused Clendaniel of working with Russell and allegedly sought to attack five electrical substations in the Baltimore area in one day. The government states that Clendaniel said that such an attack would “permanently completely law this city to waste” if done successfully. Both face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The recent attacks on electrical infrastructure captured headlines over the last several months.
Now, there is at least a partial answer regarding the recent wave of attacks.
It is yet unclear whether or not the planned attacks in Maryland are related to those in various other parts of the country.
There were similar attacks on power infrastructure in Washington, Florida and North Carolina. So far, many of the attacks left local law enforcement puzzled and sparked a federal response. The attacks in Washington state left 14,000 without power.