White supremacy group member sentenced on civil disorder conspiracy

Kara Berg
The Detroit News

Caro — A member of a national white supremacist group that advocates for violence against the government has been sentenced to probation and court supervision for assessing abandoned jail facilities as potential paramilitary firearms training areas. 

Tuscola County Circuit Court Judge Amy Gierhardt sentenced Tristan Webb, 19, on Wednesday to five years of probation for guilty pleas to being a member of a gang, conspiracy to train with firearms for civil disorder and a felony firearms enhancement. 

Tristan Webb

His two incarceration sentences — one year in jail and two years in prison — were deferred or delayed. Webb also was charged with larceny, which the court dismissed as a part of a plea agreement. 

Webb was arrested for visiting the Michigan Department of Corrections Camp Tuscola annex and the Tuscola Residential ReEntry Program in Caro in October 2020, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel's office. Webb and two other members of white supremacy group The Base took state-issued clothing from one of the facilities. 

The other men, Justen Watkins and Thomas Denton, were sentenced to time in prison for conspiracy to train with firearms for civil disorder and a felony firearm enhancement.

Watkins, the self-proclaimed leader of The Base, is serving at least four years and eight months in prison for those charges and was sentenced to more than six years in prison for gang membership in Washtenaw County. 

Denton was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison for conspiracy to teach the use of firearms and explosives and a felony firearm enhancement.

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The Base, a literal English translation of "Al-Qaeda," is a white supremacy group that advocates for violence and criminal acts against the country and says they are training for a race war to establish white ethnonationalist rule in parts of the country, including the Upper Peninsula

Webb became involved with The Base at 17. He hosted a "hate camp" for The Base at his property where they underwent firearms tactical training and learned various paramilitary-style techniques, according to a press release from Nessel's office. 

The convictions against Webb and other members of The Base for conspiring to train for a civil disorder mark the first in state history, according to Nessel's office. The charges came as a part of a crackdown on extremism in Michigan in the weeks after the FBI said it thwarted a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

“My department will hold accountable any individual that commits crimes as part of a domestic terrorist organization,” Nessel said in a statement.  “Make no mistake, these are violent gangs intent on harming others and their actions will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”