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Undercover FBI agents in casual clothing talking with a suspect on a dimly lit urban street with neon lights in the background, highlighting a tense and high-stakes atmosphere.
Undercover FBI agents in casual clothing talking with a suspect on a dimly lit urban street with neon lights in the background highlighting a tense and high stakes atmosphere

Arizona Man Mark Adams Prieto Indicted for Planning Racist Mass Shooting in Atlanta Targeting Black and Brown Communities, Uncovered by FBI Undercover Operation

By Darius Spearman (africanelements) | June 12, 2024

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Mark Adams Prieto, a 58-year-old from Prescott, Arizona, has been charged with federal hate crimes for allegedly plotting a mass shooting targeting Black and brown people at an Atlanta concert. (SOURCE: Rolling Stone) Prieto’s goal was to incite a “race war” prior to the 2024 U.S. Presidential election. (SOURCE: News One)

Undercover FBI Agents Uncover Prieto’s Racist Plot

Between January and May 2024, Prieto discussed his plans with two individuals who were actually working undercover with the FBI. He chose Atlanta due to its transformation from a conservative state to one with increasing crime and expected there to be a significant African American presence at the targeted event, likely a Bad Bunny concert at State Farm Arena. (SOURCE: Rolling Stone)

Firearms Sold and Seized in Connection with Planned Attack

As part of the plot, Prieto sold two AK/AR-style rifles to one of the undercover agents in February and March 2024. (SOURCE: Daily Courier) On May 14, while driving from Arizona to Florida with seven firearms, he was arrested by law enforcement in New Mexico. More guns, including an unregistered short-barreled rifle, were found during a search of his Prescott home. (SOURCE: News One)

Prieto Faces Significant Prison Time and Fines if Convicted

“If convicted, Prieto faces up to 25 years in prison – 15 years maximum for firearms trafficking and transfer of a firearm for use in a hate crime, and 10 years for possession of an unregistered firearm. He also faces fines of up to $250,000 for each charge.” (SOURCE: News One)

Case Highlights Concerns About Political Violence and Domestic Extremism

The case underscores the ongoing threat posed by domestic extremists motivated by racial hatred who seek to commit mass shootings. It also highlights concerns about potential political violence incited by divisive rhetoric ahead of the 2024 election. (SOURCE: Rolling Stone)

Recent Statistics on Hate Crimes in the US

In 2022, law enforcement reported 13,337 hate crime incidents to the FBI, a 7% increase from 2021 (USA Facts). Here is a breakdown of key findings:

Bias Motivation:

  • 56% of hate crimes were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias. Anti-Black hate crimes were the most frequent, with 3,434 incidents, a 4% increase from 2021.
  • 18% were motivated by religion bias, with a 27% increase from 2021. Anti-Jewish hate crimes rose by 36%.
  • 16.7% of hate crimes targeted sexual orientation.
  • 4% of hate crimes were related to gender identity bias, with a 33% increase. Anti-transgender crimes specifically increased by 35% to 338 incidents.

Additional Findings:

  • The most common hate crimes against persons in 2022 were intimidation (46.4%), simple assault (34.8%), and aggravated assault (17.6%).
  • 66% of hate crimes were against persons, 32% against property, and 2% against society.
  • Homes were the most frequent locations for hate crimes, followed by highways, streets, and sidewalks.
  • In 2022, 51% of known hate crime offenders were White, and 21% were Black or African American.

Longer-term Trends:

  • Reported hate crime incidents have been rising since 2014. From 2020 to 2021, crimes against Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Sikhs, and bisexual people more than doubled.
  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated over 300,000 people experienced hate crimes in 2019, nearly 40 times higher than the FBI number.
Bar graph showing the yearly increase in hate crime incidents, with incidents rising from 12,411 in 2021 to 13,337 in 2022. Source: USA Facts. URL: https://usafacts.org/articles/which-groups-have-experienced-an-increase-in-hate-crimes/
Yearly Increase in Hate Crime Incidents showing a rise from 12411 incidents in 2021 to 13337 in 2022

These statistics highlight the persistent problem of hate-motivated violence in the U.S. President Biden called these statistics a reminder that “hate never goes away, it only hides” and vowed to continue fighting all forms of bigotry (White House).

About the author

Darius Spearman has been a professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College since 2007. He has authored several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org.