Survivalist/conspiracy theorist says his views have made him a target

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Fernando Antonio Salguero says police blew his trunk open because he wouldn't let them open it without a warrant. Cops say it was opened after a K-9 detected explosive materials inside.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Fernando Antonio Salguero says police blew his trunk open because he wouldn't let them open it without a warrant. Cops say it was opened after a K-9 detected explosive materials inside.
Posted: February 21, 2013

SOMEDAY, the sun will die, the Earth will ice over and civilization will disintegrate in the darkness.

Fernando Antonio Salguero will be long gone by then - we all will be - but the Montgomery County resident says there's nothing wrong with preparing today for the possibility of future catastrophes.

Salguero, 39, is the founder of Survive and Thrive, an 800-member group that meets regularly to discuss such topics as "stealth and subterfuge," "repelling home invasions" and "flexing the U.S. Constitution."

"All that I am is a kid who grew up in a very, very rough way who wants to leave the world in a better condition than I found it for my children," he said Monday, a Colt .45 on his hip, during an interview at his home in Bridgeport.

Being prepared to survive in an emergency is just common sense, akin to carrying a spare tire in the trunk of your car, Salguero said.

But he has a lot of other survival "tools," beliefs and theories deep in the trunk that he thinks have made him a target.

Last week, police in Camden County blew open the trunk of Salguero's 2005 Ford Crown Victoria because, he says, he wouldn't let them open it without a warrant.

"I offered them a key, but they just blew it open with their robot to justify them having their toys," he said.

Police said they blew the trunk open after a Camden County Sheriff's Department K-9 detected explosive materials in the car.

Salguero is also involved with groups that aim to inform juries that they can "nullify" laws, that pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and that refuse to fly because of airport security screenings.

"It's a big deal, and we trade it [our personal liberties] away so we can go to Disneyland or go see our grandmother," he said.

Salguero also supports Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and believes that it took more than two airplanes piloted by suicidal terrorists to bring down the Twin Towers in 2001.

"It is a taboo subject and it is very sensitive to a lot of people," he said of 9/11. "It deserves a new and unbiased investigation. There's a tremendous amount of detail and cover-up, and that's an uncomfortable pill."

One former Survive and Thrive member told the Daily News that he left the group a few years ago when it began mixing political beliefs with practical survival methods.

"The first couple of meetings were rather interesting, if not a little bizarre," said Andrew Greene of Philadelphia. "There was too much concentrated crazy there."

Salguero said, however, that Greene had been kicked out of the group "for spreading lies." "We keep things apolitical," Salguero said.

Salguero, who earns a living installing water-filtration systems, said he was in Somerdale, Camden County, on Feb. 12 to deal with an old traffic violation. He thinks authorities knew he was coming.

Police said his car was parked illegally in front of the Somerdale municipal court. Police asked to search his car, and Salguero said no.

"I have zero criminal record, and I come from Kensington," he said, slapping his hands with a laugh. "How do you come out of Kensington with no criminal record?"

After blowing open the trunk, police discovered what they called "rocket-propelled flares, an extendable baton and tear-gas canisters." They charged Salguero with weapons violations and possession of destructive devices, and took him to the Camden County Jail on $35,000 bail.

The flares, he said, are commonly used as distress signals, and the "tear-gas canisters" were merely larger pepper-spray cans. Salguero said he forgot the baton was in the car, but claimed that it serves the same practical purpose as rope or a pry-bar.

"If there's a car accident and something's on fire and there's leaking fuel, I want to be able to affect a rescue of that person. A baton is there to break the windows," he said. "There's no problem [with having a baton] here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but in the state of New Jersey the people are much closer to the slave state. Slaves are not allowed to be armed . . . at all."

Salguero said the incident in Somerdale was about "control," noting that he's also a member of an organization called CopBlock.org, a website that aims to "highlight the double standard that some grant to those with badges by pointing to and supporting those harmed."

"I'm not anti-cop; I'm anti-tyranny," he said.

Somerdale police did not return phone calls for comment. Once Salguero was detained there, though, numerous "liberty-minded" individuals with whom he associates began calling Somerdale police and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, he said.

"This seems like a manhunt, being pulled over for being suspicious and having his car searched," a man named "DerrickJ" posted on a YouTube video of his calling several Camden County law-enforcement agencies after Salguero's arrest.

Salguero said he's hoping to get the charges against him dropped next month. His friend Michael Salvi, who runs the group Truth, Freedom, Prosperity, said he and others in Salguero's circle will be there if he needs them.

Salguero, who says he grew up poor with an abusive mother in Kensington, said he doesn't plan to go away quietly. "I'm not just doing defense here," he said. "I'm doing offense, as well."


On Twitter: @JasonNark

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