Martin Winters, a Florida prepper remained at large near the town of Valrico for three days before surrendering. The River Otter Preppers leader became the subject of a massive FBI manhunt after the agency received a tip about homemade bombs and sent an undercover agent to infiltrate the group. Martin Winters and the River Otter Preppers group often work together on livestock raising, hunting, and off the grid living projects.
The federal gun investigation turned into a statewide manhunt on when FBI agents attempted to arrest Winters for possession of “unregistered destructive devices.” Marty Winters is also accused of developing an “end of times plan to kill government agents,” according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
After FBI agents arrived at his home on Monday evening, Marty Winters fled in his vehicle and then ran into a wooded area and disappeared. “We’re hoping for a peaceful resolution to this. Nobody’s looking to do him any harm,” FBI representative David Couvertier said during a press conference after Winters evaded law enforcement officers.
On day three of the Florida manhunt, prepper Martin Winters turned himself in to the FBI with the aid of a daughter and his attorneys. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Winters was hungry, tired, and “soggy.” In exchange for his peaceful surrender he was fed a lunch of cheeseburgers, French Fries, and Gatorade – and given a dry pair of shoes. Winters invoked his right to remain silent after being led to a federal courthouse for his first legal appearance – his daughters wept as he when they saw him in handcuffs in front of the judge.
The homemade bombs and unregistered destructive devices the Valrico prepper allegedly made include metal tubes designed to fire 12-gauge shotgun shells. The homemade bombs were supposed to function as booby traps around the home of Marty Winters, according to the 24-page FBI search warrant.
The undercover FBI agent and Marty Winters reportedly took a tour of his Valrico neighborhood in Hillsborough County where the manhunt suspect is said to have pointed out his bunkers. The River Otter Preppers member owns three properties in the rural area, one on Spring Road and two on William Boulevard.
The legal woes began for Winters when he allegedly talked about shooting government agents in the back after snagging them with fishhooks which would “pop out of air-pressured pipes mounted on the eaves of the porches.” The undercover agent “spent months” talking with Winters and during that time the Florida prepper also allegedly talked about shooting propane gas tanks at agents from the federal government if they entered his property.
The exact context of the discussion remains unknown. Supporters of the Florida prepper maintain that the comments about shooting federal agents was noted as a self-defense measure if the end does come and officials attempt to round up citizens or take their food, weapons, and other belongings.
Last fall the Valrico prepper allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he spent $200,000 on his preps and had buried 60 AR-15 semi-automatic rifles inside barrels underground. A news conference about the Florida manhunt indicate that the firearms were purchased legally.
Excerpt from the search warrant affidavit for the Florida prepper:
“Winters and the River Otter Preppers are preparing for an end of time event as prophesied by the Book of Revelations in the Bible which he believes will occur in the near future. [The end of time event] will require individuals to rely on themselves for food and protection from other individuals and the federal government.”
On June 5, Martin Howard Winters, 55, and five other individuals believed to be a part of the River Otter Preppers mutual assistance group, were indicted by a federal grand jury. The sealed charges stem from an investigation into the Valrico group, that the suspect allegedly leads.