The U.S. Coast Guard has increased patrols near Michigan's Mackinac Bride after prosecutors said they believe three men jailed on terrorism charges were targeting the five-mile-long bridge that connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas, the New York Times reported.
Mark Reene, Tuscola County prosecutor, said investigators believe the men were targeting the Mackinac Bridge, but he declined to say what led to that belief.
"The additional patrols are being conducted to deter, detect and allow for a more timely response to any possible threats made to the bridge," the Coast Guard said in statement.
The men were arrested Friday, Aug. 11, outside a Wal-Mart store in Caro, 80 miles north of Detroit, after purchasing 80 cell phones, the New York Times reported. Authorities say they had about 1,000 cell phones in their van.
The men said they planned to sell the phones for profit in Texas.
Maruan Awad Muhareb and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, of Mesquite, Texas, and Adham Abdelhamid Othman of Dallas were charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes, according to the New York Times.
Authorities have not said what they believe the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones. According to Caro's police chief, cell phones can be used as detonators. Prosecutors in a similar case in Ohio said that TracFones are often used by terrorists because they are not traceable, the New York Times reported.
Distric Court Magistrate Joseph A. Van Auken set a pretrial hearing for this Friday and a preliminary exam for Aug. 24.