A Maryland Republican sheriff who once falsely claimed that immigrants are the biggest threat facing the United States has been indicted by a federal grand jury in a scheme to illegally acquire machine guns, the Justice Department announced this week. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and collaborator Robert Justin Krop are charged with conspiracy and making false statements in order to acquire machine guns, a statement said. Krop, a local firearms dealer, is also charged with illegally possessing more than half a dozen machine guns. Both face years in prison if convicted.
That a top law enforcement officer tasked with public safety is accused of trying to illegally obtain mass killing machines is shocking enough on its own, and should disqualify them from office. Jenkins was reelected over his Democratic challenger just this past November. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) detailed in a 2022 report how Jenkins has spent years trying to portray undocumented communities as risks to public safety, once falsely claiming that “the single biggest threat to our country is the immigration problem.” Jenkins claimed the U.S. “cannot continue to absorb this population or we will end up in collapse like a third world country.”
In one statement that’s particularly chilling in light of the federal grand jury’s indictments, Jenkins seemed to suggest violence against immigrants. The Republican sheriff’s platform “included a warning that ‘aliens’ were moving to Frederick County from Northern Virginia,” and promised “that he would ‘shoot them right back,’” the ACLU’s report said.
Despite (or perhaps because of) this history of anti-immigrant animus, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2008 signed a 287(g) agreement with Frederick County, allowing local deputies to act as federal immigration agents. This has been a historically flawed program that’s wasted valuable resources, eroded trust between local communities and police, and encouraged racial profiling. Maybe that’s why Tanton network hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a big fan, this week publishing a post defending both the program and Jenkins. FAIR’s post went up just one day before the Justice Department announced the charges against the Republican sheriff. Talk about some bad timing.
The Obama Administration did the right thing by beginning to wind down the program in 2016. It certainly shouldn’t be in effect with sheriffs like Chuck Jenkins, who faces as much as five years in federal prison if found guilty.
“The six-count indictment alleges that from August 2015 to May 2022, Jenkins and Krop conspired to unlawfully purchase machineguns and falsified multiple documents on the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office letterhead requesting machineguns for evaluation and demonstration to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office,” the Justice Department said in a statement, alleging that Krop readied documents for Jenkins to sign. “According to the indictment, Jenkins and Krop knew that there would not be a demonstration of the machineguns to the Sheriff’s Office and that the machineguns were intended for rental to Krop’s customers.”
“Krop also allegedly illegally possessed seven machineguns,” the statement continued. “The indictment further alleges that Krop’s business offered political support to Jenkins in recognition of his support for the business.”
But Jenkins is far from the only Republican law enforcement figure facing serious accusations of corruption. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and founder of the right-wing Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, is facing a criminal investigation over accusations that he’s pilfered hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own side. The Daily Beast reports that anti-vaccine organization America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) claims that Mack, a former official with the group, swiped $350,000 in donor contributions, allegedly taking the funds from company coffers without authorization
AFLDS has apparently been facing quite a bit of tumult, with former officials pointing fingers at each other over all sorts of accusations of misconduct. Mack has basically claimed he’s just been trying to keep the donations safe. Uh-huh. The group seems to think otherwise. “There’s no ambiguity here,” AFLDS chair Kevin Jenkins told The Daily Beast. “There’s nothing to be confused about. He’s absolutely a criminal.”
Mack and Jenkins have spent a lot of time ranting about the rule of law over the years. Clearly, they don’t think it applies to them.