A 65-year-old Spokane man has been ordered held in custody on federal charges of illegally possessing automatic weapons and illegally storing explosives in a Bellevue commercial storage shed while agents investigate how he came to possess a huge military-grade arsenal that included grenade launchers, machine guns and plastic explosives.
In four searches in Bellevue and Spokane, agents seized 37 machine guns, 12 silencers, two grenade launchers, more than 60 high-explosive grenades, several pounds of military-grade C-4 plastic explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Most of this material was stored in commercial sheds near businesses and homes, said Assistant U. S. Attorney Thomas Woods.
At a detention hearing set for Friday, Woods said he will present evidence that Struve possessed "anti-government material."
The Lynnwood shed was empty; however, agents recovered eight machine guns and additional grenade rounds in a search on a storage shed in Spokane. The search of the Bellevue storage shed did not require a warrant because agents were given permission by a man who purchased the contents at an auction. ATF Special Agent Heidi Wallace said much of the recovered ordnance was almost certainly stolen from the military because there is no other place to get it.
Woods said the investigation is continuing and that a grand-jury indictment is possible. So far, agents have questioned at least two others — including a man who rented the shed in Bellevue. No other arrests have been made.
Wallace, who was at Struve's court hearing Tuesday, said there was no evidence at this point that Struve was involved in domestic terrorism.
The first box contained what appeared to be several machine guns. Likewise, the second box contained military-type firearms. In the third box, Wallace found "two grenades and other possible explosives."
"In all my years, I've never seen this sort of firepower in one place," said ATF Special Agent Nick Starcevic, the Seattle office's senior operations officer. One box contained 54 M406 high-explosive grenade rounds — 40-millimeter shells that can be launched from a shoulder-fired weapon to distances of 300 yards or more, according to military specification. Its explosion creates a "kill radius" of up to 16 feet from the point of impact and injuries dozens of yards beyond that.
In another box, agents found six blocks of C-4 plastic explosives.
"All of the military explosive items seized are considered contraband and cannot be possessed by anyone other than the military," Wallace wrote in a search warrant. "The majority of the items seized appeared to be stolen military explosive materials.
from Seattle Times 1/21/09
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
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