Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shawna Forde

A Plot is Born


In the course of her Minutemen operations, Shawna Forde met many people who she thought would be receptive to her increasingly dangerous ideas for raising funds to protect the border. In 2007, she was introduced to Ron Wedow, a Colorado man who had traveled to Arizona for a border watch. Wedow told investigators that Forde called him in April 2009 with a wild idea: She was putting a team together to knock over a house in Arivaca that a drug cartel used to store money, drugs, and weapons. Wedow recounted Forde's story that she had met a member of the drug cartel in a bar (assumed by many to be Albert Gaxiola, but not confirmed) and had won his confidence: "She took a cigarette out of his mouth and stomped it on the floor," Wedow would later tell a jury. "After that he was impressed with her."

Albert Robert Gaxiola
Albert Robert Gaxiola
Wedow said he was dubious of the entire scheme from the beginning. Always skeptical about the government's stance on the Minutemen, Wedow assumed he was being set up by the FBI. When Forde proposed setting up a meeting with Wedow and others to further discuss the plan, Wedow invited an acquaintance, Bob Copley, who had informed for the FBI in the past.

In early May 2009, the meeting took place in a truck stop in Aurora, Colo. Wedow recalled Forde's projection that there would be upwards of $2 million in the home, and that she said she already had the house under surveillance. Wedow left the meeting early with the impression that he had done enough to tip off authorities to the scheme and convince those same authorities that he was not personally involved.

After he heard about the home invasion in Arivaca, Wedow contacted the FBI, whose agents asked him to let them tape his conversations with Forde. In wire-tapped phonecalls later played in court, Wedow asks Forde about the Flores murder. "I don't know shit about that," Forde replies defiantly, "If the cops want to talk to me they can call me." Although she never admitted complicity in the crime, Forde did state that she had carried out a few "operations" since she had last seen Wedow, and mentioned that a buddy had taken two bullets in the leg on a recent mission (as Jason Bush had). Elsewhere in the call, Forde proposed acquiring land in Arizona to start a new security business helping rescue kidnap victims. Later in the tapes, Forde talked about her strained relationship with legal authorities: " I'm the person that is willing to take it to the next level and that scares them."