Three members of the so-called Masonic Fraternal Police Department have been arrested and charged with impersonating law enforcement officers in California.
The group, which claims it has jurisdiction in 33 US states and Mexico, traces its origins to Crusades-era sect, the Knights Templar.
One of the trio, Brandon Kiel, is a low-level aide to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Investigators found uniforms, weapons and vehicles linked to the group.
Mr Kiel, David Henry and Tonette Hayes were arrested on 30 April and released later that day.
“When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other Police Departments the answer is simple for us. We were here first!” the group’s website page reads. “We are born into this Organization, our bloodlines go deeper than an application.”
Knights Templar claims
According the website, the Masonic Fraternal Police Department dates to 1100 BC. The Knights Templar, however, were active more than 2,000 years later.
Authorities began investigating the group after police chiefs in southern California received a letter in late January that announced Mr Kiel would be serving as “chief deputy director” of the group.
The letter claimed there were 5,686 lodges and that the department “will be able to acquire intel that is not accessible to non-fraternal entities”.