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By Pete Williams Justice correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/1/2011 8:17:29 PM ET 2011-11-02T00:17:29

Four Georgia men in their 60s and 70s were arrested Tuesday, accused of being members of a right-wing militia group that plotted to attack federal office buildings and to disperse a deadly biological poison in Atlanta.

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Their alleged plot was revealed to the FBI by a confidential informant last spring, and members of the group have been meeting since May with someone they thought was a black-market weapons dealer but who turned out to be an undercover federal agent, according to court documents.

No attacks were ever attempted. Federal officials say the men were disrupted before they could act on the plot.

The documents say the men, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, Ray Adams, 65, and Samuel Crump, 68, all of Toccoa, called themselves "the covert group" and began in March to talk about staging attacks against federal targets including the IRS.

A confidential informant secretly recorded some of the meetings for the FBI.

"I'd say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings," Adams was overheard saying in an April 16 meeting, according to the FBI.

"When it comes down to it, I can kill somebody," he allegedly said.

Read court documents on ricin allegations (.PDF)

They allegedly obtained a silencer from the undercover agent and plotted to buy explosives. Crump claimed he could produce ricin, a deadly biological agent, and talked about dispersing it from a car driving on an interstate highway, according to court documents.

"Ya get on the trunk of Atlanta, you get up on the north side, ya get on 41, ya throw it out there right on 285, ya go up 41 or 75, go up 75 to get away from it. Keep the heater on, that way keeps the pressure out. Don't roll your window down," he told the informant, according to court documents.

According to federal investigators, Crump had worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in the past doing "maintenance-type services" for a contractor, and Adams used to work for a U.S. Department of Agriculture agency called the Agricultural Research Service as a lab technician.

"While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens without our own borders who threaten our safety and security," said the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Sally Quillian Yates, in a written statement.

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