An agent for Customs and Border Protection in New Jersey, Alberto Almeida, was arrested and is facing charges after he allegedly sent threatening messages accusing a senior CBP official of child trafficking and calling for his extrajudicial execution, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.
According to a criminal complaint filed by a special agent with CBP’s misconduct department, Almeida sent “numerous” texts and social media posts threatening Edward Fox, the CBP assistant port director for Newark, New Jersey, including a Facebook status update in which he threatened violence and called him a “treasonous pedophile”:
Attention CBP Assistant Port Director Ed Fox in Newark: The next time I come to Newark Airport I am bringing Donald Trump and the U.S. Military down on your f****** head for your involvement in Hillary/Maxwell/Epstein’s child trafficking ring and 9/11. You f****** treasonous pedophile. Trump takes down Hillary, JFK JR (US MILITARY) takes down the Mossad, and I take you down b****, that’s how this worked. Tick Tock. #WWG1WGA”
While the accusation of involvement in “Hillary/Maxwell/Epstein’s child trafficking ring” is fairly straightforward, the JFK Jr. shoutout refers to a more obscure belief within QAnon circles that John F. Kennedy’s son faked his death in a 1999 plane crash and is now a secret agent and/or a man named Vincent Fusca. It’s not clear just how Almeida thinks Fox was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but ambiguity is part and parcel of the QAnon machine. Q’s posts are vague and unfalsifiable, increasing its appeal to a broad variety of conspiratorial groups ranging from the Flat Earth and antivax movements to hardcore anti-Semites and racists.
QAnon is less a specific conspiracy theory than a sprawling, big-tent disinformation effort chipping away at the foundations of social institutions and democracy. At the core is “Q,” an anonymous person or persons who have posted to message boards like 4chan, 8chan, and 8kun claiming to have high-level insider knowledge that a sprawling cabal of child-raping, Satan-worshiping cannibalistic elites in Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the “deep state” is running a global trafficking ring—and that none other than Donald J. Trump is at the helm of a classified effort to wipe them out in a brutal, fascistic crackdown (“the storm”) that will usher in an era of authoritarian governance. This is held to be a good thing. Numerous QAnon adherents have been arrested for crimes ranging from a standoff at Hoover Dam to the murder of a Mafia boss.
QAnon spread like wildfire on social networks like Facebook in recent years—
it’s even gone international—and though the number of adherents is unknown, affiliated accounts have racked up millions of Facebook and Instagram followers. It’s also the future of the Republican Party. As it posits the president as a sort of godhead, the White House has tacitly encouraged its growth and Republicans have done virtually nothing to stop it. A September 2020 Pew Research Center survey found that 41 percent of respondents who were Republican or leaning Republican think QAnon is either a “somewhat good” or “very good” thing for the country. Dozens of candidates in elections across the country, including GOP donor-backed Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, have expressed their support for QAnon.
Almeida is now out on $50,000 bond, the Daily Beast reported, and faces a single charge of threatening a law enforcement officer that could carry up to a ten year prison sentence; he will next be in court on Oct. 20. His attorney, David Jay Glassman, didn’t respond to the site’s request for comment.
Because the Q phenomenon implicitly centers around the threat of extrajudicial violence, its adoption by authorities who exercise the state’s monopoly on violence is particularly alarming. This is the first time a federal officer has been charged with a crime relating to QAnon, according to the Daily Beast. The Trump administration has treated CBP with particular favor, bolstering its numbers and employing it to increasingly militarize the U.S. border with Mexico. The White House has also dispatched CBP tactical teams to personally beat down protesters against police racism and brutality in cities like Portland. New recruits to CBP reportedly aren’t given psychological evaluations or assessments.
The agency has a long record of lawlessness. Criminal arrests of CBP and Border Patrol officers surged in 2017 and 2018, and CBP has sought to destroy records of misconduct and stonewall accountability reforms.
Open QAnon support seems to be somewhat more visible among local police departments across the country, judging from several officers (as well as the head of the New York Police Department sergeants union) who have publicly indicated they’re part of the movement.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection takes all allegations of employee misconduct seriously, but none more so than alleged threats to members of the public or other CBP employees,” an agency spokesperson told the Daily Beast in a statement. “As shown in the criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the allegations against CBP [officer] Almeida are being investigated by the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility. CBP does not comment on ongoing investigations or pending litigation.”