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Two of the suspects in a murderous home invasion in Arizona have ties to a Washington state anti-immigration group called Minutemen American Defense.

Jason Eugene Bush, 34, Shawna Forde, 41, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and other charges, said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz.

The trio are alleged to have dressed as law enforcement officers and forced their way into a home about 10 miles north of the Mexican border in rural Arivaca on May 30, wounding a woman and fatally shooting her husband and their 9-year-old daughter. Their motive was financial, Dupnik said.

“The husband who was murdered has a history of being involved in narcotics and there was an anticipation that there would be a considerable amount of cash at this location as well as the possibility of drugs,” Dupnik said.

Forde is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a small border watch group, and Bush goes by the nickname “Gunny” and is its operations director, according to the group’s Web site. She is from Everett, Wash., has recently been living in Arizona and was once associated with the better known and larger Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

A statement attributed to officers of Forde’s group and posted on its Web site on Saturday extended condolences to the victims’ families and said the group doesn’t condone such acts and will cooperate with law enforcement.

“This is not what Minutemen do,” said member Chuck Stonex, who responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press sent through the Web site. “Minutemen observe, document and report. This is nothing more than a cold-hearted criminal act, and that is all we want to say.”

The assailants planned to leave no one alive, Dupnik said at a press conference in Tucson on Friday. He said Forde was the ringleader.

That DHS report on right wing extremism keeps getting more relevant. Here’s the website of Minutemen American Defense, complete with rants about “subhuman Mexicans.”

UPDATE at 6/14/09 11:16:02 am:

Apparently, the motivation for the crime was to get money and drugs to fund their anti-immigration group:

Two of the three people arrested in connection with the May 30 murders of an Arivaca man and his daughter headed up a splinter Minuteman group, and were looking for drugs and money to fund their efforts to keep illegal immigrants and drug runners out of the country, sheriff’s officials said.

UPDATE at 6/14/09 12:41:38 pm:

More details at the Everett Herald Net, where they confirm that the motive was to rob the victims of money and drugs to fund their group.

EVERETT — Shawna Forde believed organized criminals operating at the border between the U.S. and Mexico posed one of the greatest threats to the nation’s security.

Drug traffickers. Human smugglers.

The Everett woman was convinced they were helping terrorists sneak radioactive “dirty bomb” materials into the U.S. She feared the federal government was in league with the United Nations and allowing what amounted to an illegal-immigrant invasion.

In a May 20 “border report” posted on the Web site of her Minutemen American Defense group, Forde warned readers that soon “you will walk out your door and think you were just transplanted into Mexico.”

Forde spent much of the past three years scouring the Arizona desert for signs of criminals.

Now, she finds herself behind bars, the focus of a double murder investigation in Arizona with potential connections to a home invasion robbery in California and other crimes in Washington.

Pima County, Ariz., detectives on Friday described Forde leading a plot to finance her Minutemen activities by robbing suspected drug traffickers. She and two others are charged with a fatal May 30 home invasion at a suspected drug trafficker’s home in Arivaca, Ariz.

Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, were killed when a group of armed people, including a woman, forced their way into the home. The child’s mother traded gunfire with the attackers. She survived but remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

The Arivaca robbery was meant to raise money to fuel Forde’s group, investigators said.

Detectives believe there are additional suspects and are aggressively continuing their investigation.

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