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Two Hartville, Mo. men arrested for illegal firearms possession after FBI tip they were headed to Kenosha area

Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 9:27 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2020 at 7:18 PM CDT
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HARTVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - Federal agents arrested two Hartville, Missouri men in Wisconsin on criminal charges after an FBI tip they were heading to the Kenosha area.

Michael M. Karmo, 40, and Cody E. Smith, 33 face charges tied to illegal possession of firearms.

Authorities arrested Karmo and Smith at a hotel Wednesday in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced Thursday he filed federal charges.

According to a criminal complaint, on September 1, the Kenosha Police Department advised FBI a law enforcement agency in Iowa received a tip that Karmo and an unidentified male were in possession of firearms and traveling from Missouri to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The tip alleged Karmo and Smith were going to possibly “loot” and “pick people off” in Kenosha.

After receiving consent to search Karmo and Smith’s vehicle and hotel room, FBI agents recovered an Armory AR-15 assault rifle, a Mossberg 500 AB 12-Gauge shotgun, two handguns, a silencer, ammunition, body armor, a drone, and other materials.

The FBI didn’t provide photos of the weapons found but did share shots of Karmo’s Facebook profile and the assault style rifles he’s posted before. Among the posts was a photo of him with the caption, “Will the real homeland security please stand up.”

When interviewed by authorities, Karmo admitted that he and Smith were members of the 417 Second Amendment Militia and they had come to Kenosha to “see for themselves” what was going on.

After attending a Trump-supporter rally, Karmo said the two were planning on going to another site of civil unrest, Portland, Oregon, and would be willing to “take action” if police were defunded.

Karmo has prior felony convictions. Smith has a prior misdemeanor domestic battery conviction. Investigators say that neither were legally allowed to possess guns or ammunition because of criminal records.

Prior to the arrests, law enforcement had already concerned about militia members coming to the area in response to protests, some that turned deadly, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in August.

The probable cause statement claims that Smith told federal agents the men wanted to see proof of the rioting in Kenosha after attending the Trump-supporter rally.

The document says Karmo stopped in Iowa to visit someone he knew, and he was offended that the person commented that Karmo and Smith looked like they were going to Kenosha to shoot people.

Back in Hartville, Wright County Sheriff Glenn Adler said the two men were not on his department’s radar until the ATF and FBI came in Thursday to search the house the two men shared. According to the probable cause statement, Karmo and Smith were roommates and had only lived in the area for around a month.

Karmo is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Smith faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the three charges against him: aiding and abetting Karmo, possessing a firearm unlawfully and possessing a firearm while using illegal drugs.

Both men are being held in federal custody. Karmo and Smith could each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Kenosha Police Department, the Village of Pleasant Prairie Police Department, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office, and local law enforcement in the state of Iowa.

It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard G. Frohling and Margaret B. Honrath.

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