By Matt Christopherson

(CNN) – Six men were charged Thursday in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The six individuals charged in the Western District of Michigan with conspiracy to kidnap are Michigan residents Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, and Delaware resident Barry Croft.

The FBI became aware of the scheme, first reported by The Detroit News, in early 2020 through a social media group of individuals who were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components, according to the criminal complaint.

“Through electronic communications, Croft and Fox agreed to unite others in their cause and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the US Constitution,” including the government of Michigan and Whitmer, according to the complaint.

Court documents say the FBI planted an undercover agent to travel to Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 for a meeting with Croft, Fox and about 13 others.

“They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions … Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” according to the complaint.

At one point during the meeting, the group discussed increasing their members and Fox reached out to a “Michigan base militia group,” according to the complaint.

By June 14, a second confidential informant confirmed that Fox was introduced to the leader of the militia group and they met in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The informant audio recorded conversations with Fox in which he allegedly said he needed “200 men” to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Whitmer, according to the criminal complaint.

Fox explained they would try the governor of Michigan for “treason” and he said they would execute the plan before the November 2020 elections, according to the criminal complaint.

On June 20, Fox, Garbin and others met at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids where attendees met in the basement to turn over their cell phones that would be placed in a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor, according to the criminal complaint.

“The attendees discussed plans for assaulting the Michigan State Capitol, countering law enforcement first responders, and using ‘Molotov cocktails’ to destroy police vehicles. The attendees also discussed plans for an additional meeting during the first weekend of July when they also would conduct firearms and tactical training,” according to the criminal complaint.

Whitmer is scheduled to deliver remarks Thursday afternoon. Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, strongly condemned the threat against the governor.

“A threat against our governor is a threat against us all,” Shirkey said in a statement. “We condemn the actions of the group of individuals that plotted against Governor Whitmer and state government. These people are not patriots. There is no honor in their actions. They are criminals and traitors, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Matt Christopherson

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