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A 26-year-old man from Dalton, Georgia, who has been in jail for alleged activity as part of a violent white supremacist group known as The Base has been charged with assaulting another inmate in the Floyd County Jail.

Michael John Helterbrand, 26, is facing charges of aggravated sexual battery, terroristic threats and criminal street gang participation. Helterbrand was one of three men arrested in January 2020 for planning to kill a married couple who were anti-fascist protesters — part of the antifa movement — and who believed killing them would send a message to enemies of The Base, authorities said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced last week Helterbrand and six other inmates were charged and are alleged members of the Ghostface Gangsters criminal street gang.

According to a report from the Floyd County Sheriff's Office obtained by Vice News, the assault involved a toothbrush. The report also said Helterbrand had assaulted the man as a way to move up the ranks in the criminal street gang.

Brian Johnston with the GBI told the Times Free Press in an email that the investigation is active and ongoing and "we do not have an incident report that we can release at this time."

Helterbrand was one of seven inmates charged by the GBI.

The Ghostface Gangsters is the largest gang founded in Georgia, according to the Department of Community Supervision. Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force Commander Dewayne Brown has said there are more Ghostface members in Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties than anywhere else in the state.

According to a U.S. District Court indictment for a pending racketeering case, seven Cobb County Jail inmates formed the Ghostface Gangsters in 2000. For years, it was largely a prison gang for white inmates, offering protection, drugs and cellphones. Unlike other white gangs such as the Aryan Nations, it was not centered on racist ideology.

The Base, a collective of hardcore neo-Nazis that operates as a paramilitary organization, has proclaimed war against minority communities within the United States and abroad, the FBI has said.

Its organizers recruit fellow white supremacists online — particularly seeking out veterans because of their military training — use encrypted chat rooms and train members in military-style camps in the woods, according to experts who track extremist groups.

The group, which has the motto "learn, train, fight," brings together white supremacists with varying ideologies.

In January, Helterbrand and two other men were arrested after an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group and participated in shooting drills in the mountains on a rural compound just a few miles south of downtown Rome, according to a police affidavit obtained by The Associated Press. The drills were being done in preparation for what they believe is an impending collapse of the United States and ensuing race war. At the end of the firearms training, the men wore tactical gear and balaclava hoods while posing for photos with the undercover agent and the photos were later used in the group's propaganda, the affidavit states.

One month later, bond was denied for the men, the Rome News-Tribune reported, in part because of coronavirus concerns. Two months later, authorities said they found a homemade knife in Helterbrand's jail cell and he was given an additional weapons charge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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