Homegrown hate Ryan Thorpe's story on infiltrating a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, and the Free Press' follow-up coverage

In August 2019, a Free Press reporter posed as a white nationalist to gain inside access to a neo-Nazi paramilitary group attempting to gain a foothold in Winnipeg and across the country.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/06/2019 (1273 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In August 2019, a Free Press reporter posed as a white nationalist to gain inside access to a neo-Nazi paramilitary group attempting to gain a foothold in Winnipeg and across the country.

Read Ryan Thorpe’s story, and the Free Press’ follow-up coverage.



Inside a neo-Nazi group attempting to gain a foothold in Winnipeg and across the country


He stands about 5-10, with hair that’s shaggy on top and clipped close at the sides. He pulls at his bushy beard when he's deep in thought. His arms are often crossed when he talks.If you walked past him on the sidewalk, you wouldn’t look twice.

Racial and homophobic epithets pepper his speech. He hates people who aren’t like him. He hates Jews and rants about conspiracies against white men. He quotes neo-Nazis such as Tom Metzger, James Mason and George Lincoln Rockwell.

He claims to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and said he was trained as a combat engineer. That training makes him highly coveted by the global fascist organization of which he's a member. He wants to pass on those skills to other neo-Nazis.

On a warm weekday evening in August at Winnipeg’s Whittier Park, he points to a nearby rail line and talks about the possibility of derailing a train. “Even if you didn’t want to make that go boom,” he mutters, before explaining how someone could sabotage the tracks.

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White supremacist in army reserve

Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews


The man who is recruiting in Winnipeg for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group holds a leadership position in the Canadian Army Reserve and is a trained explosives expert.

The Free Press has identified Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, 26, as the man responsible for the neo-Nazi propaganda posters that have been posted throughout the city in recent weeks.

The posters were part of a recruitment drive for The Base, a white supremacist network that’s active on three continents. Experts on hate groups say The Base represents the most radical, violent fringes of the extremist right.

Mathews is a trained combat engineer, which makes him an explosives expert, and is an active member of the army reserve. Combat engineers are responsible for conducting a number of construction and demolition tasks under battle conditions.

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Military, RCMP investigating Winnipeg neo-Nazi army reserves leader

Winnipeg Free Press files The man who is recruiting in Winnipeg for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group holds a leadership position in the Canadian Army Reserve and is a trained explosives expert.


At least two investigations are underway into the extremist activity of Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, an active combat engineer in the Canadian Army Reserves in Winnipeg who holds membership in a violent neo-Nazi hate group.

The investigations — one conducted by the armed forces and the other by the RCMP — come in the wake of a Free Press report identifying Mathews, 26, as the man behind the recent recruitment drive in Winnipeg for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group called The Base.

A report on Mathews has also been filed with the provincial Chief Firearms Officer, the official responsible for administering gun licences. Mathews is known to possess several firearms, including multiple long guns and a pistol.

The organization for which he was actively recruiting in Winnipeg represents the most violent, radical fringes of the far-right hate movement.

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RCMP raid Beausejour home of army reservist identified as neo-Nazi recruiter

Patrik Mathews would not comment when approached by a reporter outside the home Tuesday morning. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)


RCMP officers raided the Beausejour home of a Canadian Army Reserves leader identified as a recruiter for a violent neo-Nazi paramilitary organization on Monday night, neighbours say.

Earlier Monday, the Free Press reported Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, 26, an active Winnipeg reserves combat engineer, holds membership in The Base, which represents the most violent, radical fringes of the far-right hate movement.

Neighbours told the Free Press Mathews was taken out of his house and into custody by officers late Monday evening, as police vehicles and officers lined the quiet street. In a video obtained by the Free Press, RCMP officers can be heard addressing Mathews over a speaker, announcing they had a search warrant for the house and asking him to exit with his hands in the air.

In a written statement, Manitoba RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne said the Mounties executed a public safety warrant at a residence in Beausejour at about 10 p.m., but did not specify whether it was Mathews who was taken into custody. Several firearms were seized.

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Mounties remain silent after raid on neo-Nazi soldier's home

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Patrik Mathews' house was raided by RCMP on Tuesday.


Manitoba RCMP refuse to say why they carried out a raid Monday and seized weapons at the Beausejour home of a Canadian reserve soldier who has been recruiting for an extremist neo-Nazi organization.

Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews was taken into custody and later released without charge.

The Mounties have declined an interview request from the Free Press and refused to answer any written questions, including whether they executed other search warrants linked to Mathews and whether several firearms removed from the home have been, or will be, returned to him.

The RCMP investigation, as well as a linked Canadian Armed Forces investigation, was launched in the aftermath of a Free Press report identifying Mathews, 26, as a military reserves combat engineer and an active recruiter in The Base, a violent, hate-fuelled, radical paramilitary organization.

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Military aware of Winnipeg soldier's neo-Nazi 'utterances' since April, Canada's top general says

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance speaks during a change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang


Canada’s top general has disclosed the military has been tracking a Manitoba solider for months, after a Free Press exclusive report uncovered his links to a neo-Nazi group.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, told reporters Thursday that the Canadian Forces national counter-intelligence unit has been involved in monitoring Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, a 26-year-old reservist.

RCMP briefly put Mathews in custody Monday night during a raid at his Beausejour home, where they seized several weapons. Police haven't said whether the weapons have been — or will be — returned to him. He has not been charged with any crime.

The military has now given conflicting accounts of when it first became aware of Mathews' extremist views, leading to questions about the extent to which it is proactively weeding proponents of hate from its ranks.

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Haters find a home: Online platforms transform white-male frustration into violent extremism

Tribune Media TNS The Federal Trade Commission noted that there was a 24 percent increase last year in identity theft reports that involved credit card fraud on new accounts. You can file a complaint at (Dreamstime/TNS)


When it starts, the boy is just 16 years old, crossing the awkward and unsteady bridge that links adulthood to youth, and he is lonely. One day, he opens up the social media site Reddit, and finds in its multitude of communities a place to ask the question that has been eating up his mind.

Until then, his posts had mostly been about video games, cars and gripes about his parents. Now, he wants to know how to get girls to like him. He asks, and gets responses directing him to online tracts by polemicists who posit opposite-sex relations as a sort of a game, dependent on pulling certain triggers at certain times.

This makes sense to him. Make the right inputs. Win the game. Get the prize.

Months go by, and the boy is being pulled deeper. He appears to be a voracious reader. He makes more posts, asking if it’s true what he read about women: that they are amoral, always hunting for better partners, that they cannot truly love. His fellow travellers assure him that it is, and it’s good that his eyes are open.

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Winnipeg neo-Nazi soldier to be relieved of military duties in coming weeks

Seven masked members of The Base shoot shotguns and semi-automatic rifles during a recent paramilitary 'hate camp' at an unknown location.


The Canadian Armed Forces has stripped Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews of his uniforms, relieved him from his duties, and will formally release him from the military in the coming weeks, the Free Press has learned.

The actions come a week after the Free Press identified Mathews as a recruiter for the neo-Nazi paramilitary group known as The Base, which represents the most violent, radical fringes of the far-right hate movement.

“It is incumbent of our leaders to know their soldiers, and to take measures when they have acted in a manner that is not aligned with our beliefs and culture of respect for all people,” a military spokeswoman said in a written statement Tuesday.

“We have taken decisive action, and we will continue to exert full energy in removing those from our ranks who harbour extremist ideologies.”

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Neo-Nazi soldier disappears: Family hasn't seen hate-group recruiter since Saturday

CP Patrik Mathews was reported missing by his family.


The same day the RCMP announced it is searching for army reservist Patrik Mathews, who was reported missing by his family Monday, the Free Press learned an account belonging to him appears to have recently resurfaced on a social media platform popular with far-right extremists.

Mathews, 26, was last seen by his family in Beausejour Saturday evening, five days after the Free Press exposed him as the man behind a recent recruitment drive for a neo-Nazi group in Winnipeg.

“(His disappearance) could be happening for a number of reasons and none of them are really any good," said an acquaintance of Mathews, whom the Free Press has agreed not to identify.

"There are a lot of people who are still hoping he can turn this around.”

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Neo-Nazi soldier's truck found abandoned near U.S. border

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES RCMP officers raided the Beausejour home of Patrik Mathews in August. His truck, pictured here shortly after raid, was fond abandoned near the U.S. border.


A truck owned by a Canadian Forces reservist has been found abandoned near the U.S.-Canada border, two weeks after he was exposed as a recruiter for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group.

Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews vehicle was discovered about two kilometres north of the Manitoba-Minnesota border in a remote, forested area.

“We have had border crossings here over the last few years at multiple locations. There’s no one spot in particular. It is a very remote area with provincial forests. There’s not much development,” said Wayne Anderson, reeve of the RM of Piney.

Mathews, 26, was reported missing to police Aug. 26, two days after he was last seen by his family and a week after the Free Press identified him as the man behind a recent neo-Nazi group's recruitment drive in Winnipeg.

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Manitoba fugitive at centre of neo-Nazi murder plot: FBI

WILLIAM J. HENNESSY JR. - court sketch of Patrik Mathews


It was a scene out of a thriller novel.

A neo-Nazi on the run from federal police hatches a murder plot with a comrade. Unbeknownst to them, an undercover FBI agent infiltrates the terror cell and is pulled into the conspiracy. Distrust soon festers within the ranks and the ringleader decides to double-cross the wanted man.

That’s the scene painted by an affidavit used to secure arrest warrants for three members of the Base — a violent, neo-Nazi paramilitary group — taken into custody Friday in Georgia.

The document sheds new light on Patrik Mathews' activities while a fugitive in the United States, and reveals how, in a shocking twist, he found himself in the crosshairs of a murder plot he helped hatch.

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Ex-Winnipeg reservist Mathews 'very dangerous person,' U.S. judge says, rejecting bail argument

The investigation by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe in August revealed Mathews' association with the secretive neo-Nazi group. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files) (Ruth Bonneville / Free Press files)


GREENBELT, Md. — Patrik Mathews was portrayed as a terrorist, intent on murder and destruction in seeking to spark a neo-Nazi revolution, as a U.S. judge rejected the former Canadian soldier's bid for release Wednesday.

The sound of shackles filled the air as the side door to the Maryland courtroom opened shortly before the detention hearing began. Seconds later, Mathews emerged, wearing the orange jumpsuit of a U.S. federal prisoner.

His beard — shaven after the Manitoba resident was exposed by the Winnipeg Free Press as a recruiter for the violent neo-Nazi paramilitary group the Base — was bushy once more; his hair thick and pushed back on his head.

Reflecting upon his appearance, a Washington Post reporter quipped: “He kind of looked like Ted Kaczynski,” of Unabomber infamy.

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Recognized, relieved

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Patrik Mathews outside his home in Beausejour in 2019.


Greenbelt, Md. — As Patrik Mathews was led into U.S. federal court in Greenbelt, Md., Wednesday morning, his head was on a swivel. He seemed to scan the faces — lawyers, journalists, law enforcement — that lined the dark wooden benches in the courtroom.

And then he saw me.

His eyes narrowed to slits; his face scrunched up, transformed into an angry grimace. He glared — hard.

We looked at one another for what felt like a long time, but was likely only a few seconds, before I dropped my eyes to the notebook in my lap and scribbled away. When I looked up, he was seated in his chair, facing the front of the court.

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Local neo-Nazi faces more charges Tuesday

Patrik Mathews is set for a hearing in Greenbelt, Md. Tuesday, where he’ll face the firearm and obstruction of justice charges two grand juries indicted him on late last month. (William J. Hennessy Jr. / Free Press files)


Patrik Mathews is scheduled to appear back in U.S. federal court next week to be arraigned on the latest criminal charges laid against the neo-Nazi recruiter and disgraced Canadian reservist.

Mathews, 27, is set for a hearing in Greenbelt, Md. Tuesday, where he’ll face the firearm and obstruction of justice charges two grand juries indicted him on late last month.

Those charges are in addition to two felony firearm charges the FBI laid following his arrest by U.S. law enforcement Jan. 16.

In total, the Canadian faces seven criminal charges in connection with his alleged efforts to plan a terror attack he hoped would help spark a “violent revolution for the white race.”

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Patrik Mathews' attorney seeks to suppress post-arrest interview

Patrik Mathews was at the centre of a Free Press investigation that exposed him as a recruiter for a neo-Nazi paramilitary organization called the Base. (RCMP handout)


En route to the Baltimore field office after his Jan. 16 arrest in Delaware, Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents bought Patrik Mathews a Chick-fil-A sandwich and a cup of coffee.

With his belly presumably full, the disgraced Canadian reservist and former fugitive allegedly waived his right to remain silent and spent 2 1/2 hours chatting with FBI agents — a post-arrest interview his defence attorney is trying to suppress from being introduced as evidence in his upcoming trial.

Mathews, 27, was at the centre of an August 2019 Free Press investigation that exposed him as a recruiter for a violent neo-Nazi paramilitary organization called the Base.

After being outed, the Beausejour resident fled the country. He was later arrested by federal law enforcement in the U.S. as part of a nation-wide crackdown on the group. He’s been held in custody since.

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Manitoba neo-Nazi pleads guilty to U.S. charges

WILLIAM J. HENNESSY JR. — court sketch of Patrik Mathews


GREENBELT, Md. — Patrik Mathews walked into a U.S. federal courtroom Thursday cloaked in the presumption of innocence. When he left, he was a felon — four times over.

The former master corporal and combat engineer in the Canadian Army Reserves pleaded guilty to four criminal charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Maryland during a rearraignment hearing.

The charges stem from crimes committed in Maryland and Delaware in late-2019 and early-2020, while the Beausejour resident was on the run, and allegedly involved in the plotting of murders and terror attacks.

The convictions bring the saga of Patrik Mathews — perhaps the most dramatic, high-profile case where a member of the Canadian military has been linked to far-right extremism in recent years — one step closer to completion.

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Patrik Mathews wanted bloodshed, instead, he got the jumpsuit of a convicted felon

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Patrik Mathews outside his home in Beausejour in 2019.


GREENBELT, MARYLAND — The guilty plea was recorded, the agreed statement of facts read into the record, and Patrik Jordan Mathews — dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit — shuffled out of a federal courtroom on June 10 towards a bleak future behind bars.

He had a different destination in mind a year-and-a-half earlier — a destination that would have been soaked in bloodshed in the service of his fascist, white-supremacist ideals.

That destination was three hours south from the courthouse, in Richmond, Va., the former home of the Confederacy.


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Patrik Mathews abruptly gave away beloved cats, concerned friends called RCMP, search warrant reveals

RCMP said they searched Twitter for #Winnipeg and found this photo of someone dressed in military clothing pointing a firearm, with the heading The Base. A police affidavit says the identity of the person and location is unknown, the photo appears to be dated AUG 4, 2019. (Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench)


Friends, former friends and co-workers of Patrik Mathews thought he was all talk until they read an article in the Winnipeg Free Press that identified him as a white supremacist who was actively recruiting for The Base, a secretive neo-Nazi paramilitary group, according to recently unsealed search warrant documents obtained by CBC News.

In August 2019, RCMP raided Mathews' Beausejour home searching for firearms and ammunition days after the Winnipeg Free Press published a story about the former Canadian military reservist and his association with The Base.

In a sworn affidavit, the Mounties said after the article came out they received numerous calls from people who knew Mathews who said they were concerned about his recent behaviour, and feared he might be planning something.

To read more of this story first reported by CBC News, click here.

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Patrik Mathews crossed border with white-supremacist posters, list of mass shootings: RCMP

Patrik Mathews told border security officers the list in his notebook charting mass shootings was old research. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)


When Canadian border agents searched a rental vehicle driven by a then-unknown Patrik Mathews in the summer of 2019, they made a disturbing discovery: homemade posters warning of “White Genocide” and a detailed list of mass shootings.

It was June 1, 2019 — more than two months before the Free Press exposed Mathews as an active member of the Canadian military moonlighting as a recruiter for a violent neo-Nazi paramilitary group — and the pressure was on.

At first, Mathews told the Canada Border Services Agency officials at the port-of-entry near Tolstoi that he was returning from Lake Bronson, Minn., where he’d been visiting family.

But when pressed, Mathews buckled and changed his story, saying he was coming back from visiting his friend, “Jason,” from Duluth, whom he’d met online.

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Manitoba reservist could get lengthy sentence

This undated photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shows Patrik Mathews. Prosecutors in the United States are recommending that Mathews, a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist from Manitoba who is alleged to have worked with a white supremacist group to kick-start a civil war, be sentenced to 25 years behind bars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-RCMP, *MANDATORY CREDIT*


Prosecutors in the United States who argue a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist intended to start a civil war by killing on a large scale are recommending he be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Patrik Mathews, 28, pleaded guilty earlier this year to four charges, including illegally transporting a firearm and obstruction of justice.

“Hoping for a civil war that would decimate racial and ethnic minorities and subjugate women, the defendants joined forces with each other and others, studied violence, tested their weapons skills, stockpiled munitions and supplies, and planned to kill on a large scale in pursuit of their goals,” prosecutors wrote in a 45-page sentencing memo filed in Maryland District Court last week.

Mathews has been in U.S. custody since he and two Americans were arrested by the FBI last year. Its alleged all three were members of the white supremacist group The Base and had been planning violence at a Virginia gun rights rally in 2020.

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Patrik Mathews awaits sentencing after brazen 'race war' plot derailed

Patrik Mathews is charged with “transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)


As their neighbours celebrated the birth of the Messiah on Christmas Day 2019, Patrik Mathews — a disgraced Canadian army reservist on the run from U.S. law enforcement — and Brian Lemley Jr., an American combat veteran, were plotting the resurrection of a “saint.”

The two men were holed up in a small apartment in Newark, Del., on a quiet, sprawling compound that features thick patches of trees and winding roads, discussing what they wanted for Christmas.

Whereas their neighbours were surrounded by holiday decorations and wrapped presents under pine-needle trees, Mathews and Lemley had filled their apartment with an assault rifle, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and enough food for several months.

More than anything, the two men wanted to carry out an action so brazen and unlikely to succeed it would make them “immortal” in the eyes of the neo-Nazi movement to which they belonged.

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Neo-Nazi's views repugnant, but he deserves 'second chance,' U.S. defence lawyer argues

Court sketch of Patrik Mathews in Greenbelt, Maryland Thursday January, 16, 2020.


Patrik Mathews’ defence attorney is asking a U.S. federal judge to sentence the neo-Nazi and disgraced Canadian reservist to a 33-month prison sentence, even as he concedes his client held beliefs "many would find repugnant."

Lawyer Joseph Balter argues in a newly unsealed sentencing memorandum that the prosecution’s request for 25 years for Mathews and his co-accused, Brian Lemley Jr., is “grossly disproportionate.”

“Mr. Mathews and Mr. Lemley were law-abiding citizens prior to the instant (offence) and served in their country’s militaries. They deserve a second chance to return to their families and resume their lives,” Balter wrote.

“The government’s recommended sentence serves no purpose than to utterly destroy the defendants’ lives.”

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U.S. judge adding 'terrorism enhancement' to Manitoba neo-Nazi's prison term

Court sketch of Patrik Mathews.


GREENBELT, Md. — Terrorism sentencing enhancements will be applied in the case of Patrik Mathews — a neo-Nazi and disgraced Canadian reservist — and his co-conspirator, Brian Lemley Jr., a federal judge ruled in a Maryland courtroom Monday.

The ruling means Mathews and Lemley, who plotted to murder federal law-enforcement and other civic figures during a charged pro-gun rights rally in Richmond, Va., in January 2020, will likely spend years, not months, in U.S. federal prison.

The two men will learn their fates during a sentencing hearing Thursday.

Mathews fled Canada in August 2019 after the Winnipeg Free Press exposed him as an active military combat engineer moonlighting as a recruiter for a violent neo-Nazi paramilitary group called the Base.

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Reporter Ryan Thorpe re-examines the 2.5-year journey of Patrik Mathews — from neo-Nazi to prison inmate

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe poses for a portrait in front of the Minto Armoury, where Patrik Mathews was at one point stationed.


For three years, the high priests of the QAnon conspiracy-theory movement and other far-right crackpots and bigots had preached about a storm on the horizon.

On Jan. 6 — fuelled by lies peddled by the 45th president of the United States of America and his sycophantic allies — the prophecy became self-fulfilling.

Watching from Canada, it seemed the United States was engulfed in flames.

They came from all over the country, loaded into cars, trucks and buses with weapons, banners and Confederate flags, intent on overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.

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Updated on Thursday, January 23, 2020 5:43 PM CST: Coverage added.

Updated on Monday, February 10, 2020 6:39 PM CST: Coverage added.

Updated on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 12:36 PM CST: Coverage added

Updated on Friday, October 15, 2021 8:17 PM CDT: Coverage updated.

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