Evidence against Minuteman American Defense founder Shawna Forde in the killing of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul continues to mount as her trial entered its second week Monday. The killings occurred as part of a Minuteman fundraising effort near the Arizona border.
Ron Wedow, a Colorado Minuteman, testified Tuesday that Forde had contacted him before the May 30, 2009, killings and offered to supply him with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. When Wedow later met with Forde, she asked him to join an operation in Arivaca, Arizona, which would involve taking over a person’s house and stealing money and drugs from him. She claimed that the home had $2-3 million dollars in it at all times. The Flores family lived in Arivaca. They had approximately $3,000 in the house at the time of the invasion, which Bisenia’s mother, Gina Gonzalez, says was to be used to pay household bills.
Forde told Wedow at the meeting that proceeds from the operation would be used to fund the Minutemen.
Forde called Wedow the day before the home invasion and again asked him to join her. According to his testimony, he told her that couldn’t because he had a court date related to a felony charge against him. Wedow testified that, at the time of the calls, he believed that Forde was part of an FBI sting operation designed to entrap him in a conspiracy to commit murder.
When Wedow learned of the Arivaca killings on the news the next day he immediately associated them with Forde’s invitation and he called the FBI. He then worked with the FBI to make two phone calls to Forde. During the calls Forde denied involvement in the killings, but she acknowledged that her second-in-command Jason Bush was shot in a mysterious encounter with drug smugglers. Bush was allegedly shot by Gina Gonzalez when he tried to execute her.
Last week, another of Forde’s recruits, a drug smuggler named Oin Oakstar, testified that he and Albert Gaxiola were recruited by Forde for the home invasion. He said that he knew that Forde’s group intended to kill Raul Flores, although he denied knowing that Flores’ wife and children were also to be executed. Gaxiola went through with the plan, but Oakstar dropped out because he was too inebriated on the day of the murders to participate. His friend Gaxiola, who was also a drug smuggler, now faces trial for first-degree murder.
For all the talk by the Minutemen over the years about the care they use in selecting members, the fact that Wedow was facing a felony trial and that Gaxiola and Oakstar were both narco-traffickers contradicts claims of careful background checks for the border vigilantes.