A member of the Air National Guard is facing federal charges after applying for a job online as an assassin. According to a Justice Department press release, Josiah Ernesto Garcia from Hermitage, Tennessee, was arrested by an undercover federal agent at a park on April 12, 2023.
The FBI affidavit says Garcia was looking for a good-paying job to support his family. He reportedly told the undercover agent:
"Im [sic] looking for a job, that pays well, related to my military experience (Shooting and Killing the marked target) so I can support my kid on the way. What can I say, I enjoy doing what I do, so if I can find a job that is similar to it, (such as this one) put me in coach!"
He is alleged to have started looking for "contract mercenary jobs" in mid-February, eventually coming across RentAHitman.com, a website for a cybersecurity startup that later turned into a parody site, after receiving inquiries about murder-for-hire services. The site contains false testimonials, a form where people can request hit services, and a career inquiry page for anyone wanting to apply as a hired killer.
Completely missing numerous red flags, Garcia reportedly applied to become a hitman. He then made several follow-up messages to the site's administrator, and provided his identification documents and a resume that indicated he had been in the Air National Guard since 2021, where he reportedly earned the nickname "Reaper" for his excellent marksmanship.
The FBI eventually intervened and set up a sting to capture Garcia. An undercover agent disguised as a recruiter offered Garcia a hit on an individual for $5,000. They meet at a park, and the agent handed Garcia information about a fictitious target that included photographs, fake information, and a downpayment of $2,500.
"Defendant met with an FBI undercover agent and participated in detailed discussions expressing his interest in torturing and killing people for money," the affidavit says. "After being offered many opportunities to withdraw from the employment offer, [D]efendant accepted payment to kill a person."
After receiving the packet and the money, Garcia asked the agent if he needed to provide a photo of the dead body. He was swiftly arrested and charged with "the use of interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire." Subsequently, the FBI searched Garcia's home and recovered his AR-15 rifle.
After waiving his Miranda rights, Garcia reportedly told investigators "he had second thoughts about the hitman job and changed his mind," after getting a job offer from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The affidavit says that "Garcia stated that he was meeting the UCE [undercover employee] to tell him he had changed his mind and did not want to do this kind of work. Garcia stated that he was going to call the UCE when he got to his car and leave the money on the curb for the UCE to pick up."
According to the charge, Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
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