Following a joint FBI and Michigan State Police investigation, Watkins was charged with gang membership for his association with the Base and using computers to commit a felony. “We are buying houses and land and fortifying them,” said Watkins under an alias on the encrypted chat app, Wire, in early 2020. The chatroom was a place where members of different affiliations mingled and discussed the state of their violent movement. In early 2020, the Base was hit with a series of high-profile arrests of many of its most prominent members. But in the midst of the chaos, its Michigan cell, led by Watkins, remained intact.