A man police described as a domestic extremist who was training others in his anti-government ideology was arrested over the weekend in Tangipahoa Parish.
Phillip Guidry, a convicted felon, was detained on a warrant out of Missouri by Ponchatoula police who learned during their investigation that he was teaching others how to become “sovereign citizens,” said Ponchatoula Police Chief Bry Layrisson.
During a search of what was described in a news release as Guidry's “fortified residential compound" in Loranger, law enforcement officers found an array of firearms, including a fully automatic rifle without a serial number, Layrisson said.
Guidry has been booked on six additional weapons-related counts as a result of the search in Louisiana, Layrisson said.
The FBI says sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that "even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or 'sovereign' from the United States."
"As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement," an FBI article from 2010 says.
People identified as of the radical group have been involved in various fraudulent schemes, according to the FBI, and are accused in the 2012 killings of two sheriff’s deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish.
The release describes Guidry's ideology as "anti-local, state and federal government."
Layrisson said police arrested Guidry during a traffic stop in Robert, because they did not want to interact with him at home.
Guidry’s home on Creekside Drive in Loranger is surrounded by barbed wire with a camera system, bulletproof roll-down shutters and three attack dogs loose inside the fence, Layrisson said.
During Guidry’s arrest, “he said he was a sovereign citizen and did not have to comply with the U.S. government,” Layrisson said. He said Guidry, who was not armed, did not physically resist.
Layrisson said police were able to search Guidry’s home after his wife cooperated and secured the dogs. Inside the house, officers found six guns, including the rifle, and a six-month supply of food, he said.
The police chief said Guidry was wanted in Missouri on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm for allegedly carrying a weapon in a hidden compartment of his recreational vehicle while driving in that state. Guidry has a history of arrests for narcotics and other offenses, including in Louisiana, police said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimated in 2011 that there were 100,000 to 300,000 so-called sovereign citizens, a figure that is based in part on the number of tax protesters calculated by the IRS. There is no centralized leadership, so it is impossible to get an accurate count, the civil rights organization says.
The 48-year-old Guidry, of 50501 Creekside Drive, Loranger, was initially booked on Saturday into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on the Missouri warrant. The six weapons counts from Louisiana were added Wednesday, police said, and he remains under investigation by local, state and federal authorities.
Guidry's arrest was a joint effort of the Ponchatoula Police, Louisiana State Police Criminal Intelligence Division, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Task Force, according to a news release.
The Secret Service is also involved in the case, Layrisson said.