11 Indicted in Five-State Ecoterror Campaign
Posted: January 24, 2006
Eleven suspected members of the two most active ecoterrorist movements in the United States have been indicted on charges related to 17 acts of domestic terrorism in five western states.
The defendants are allegedly responsible for a “campaign of domestic terrorism” in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, between 1996 and 2001, according to the Justice Department.
Calling themselves “The Family,” the defendants allegedly targeted U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, Bureau of Land Management wild horse facilities, meat processing companies, lumber companies and a high-tension power line among other targets on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Four of the defendants are also charged in connection to the 1998 arson at a Vail, Colorado, ski resort, the costliest act of ecoterrorism at that time.
The 65-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, was announced by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller on January 20 at a news conference in Washington. “The trail of destruction left by these defendants across the western United States caused millions of dollars in damage to public and private facilities,” Gonzales said.
Eight of the defendants have been arrested; three others remain at large and are believed to be abroad, according to the Justice Department. The defendants, including two Canadian citizens, face charges of conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy, arson, attempted arson, use and possession of a destructive device and destruction of an energy facility.
The indictment supersedes earlier indictments against five of the defendants, who were arrested in a series of coordinated raids in New York, Virginia, Oregon and Arizona on December 8, 2005. The new indictment expands the list of crimes and adds six new names to the list of conspirators. A twelfth suspect, William Rodgers, of Arizona, named in the original indictment, committed suicide in prison while awaiting charges.
Firefighter Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, 39, was arrested near Ashland, Oregon, and is charged with burning down a horse slaughterhouse in Redmond, Oregon, in July 1997. ALF claimed responsibility for that fire, which caused an estimated $1 million in damage. According to an FBI affidavit, an informant told investigators that Paul set the blaze using five-gallon plastic buckets filled with a mix of gasoline, diesel oil and soap that was ignited by an electronic timer. This type of incendiary device is a signature of ELF and ALF fires. In 1993, Paul spent five months in jail for contempt of court in Spokane, Washington, for refusing to testify in an investigation into a 1991 ALF raid that caused $100,000 in damages to U.S. Department of Agriculture offices at Washington State University.
Darren Todd Thurston, a 35-year old Canadian citizen, was arrested last month in Portland, Oregon, and charged with possession of a false U.S. social security card and a false green card. He also faces a charge of conspiracy to commit arson. During a search of Thurston’s Portland home, investigators found a book entitled Advanced Anarchist Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives, false IDs and instructions on how to make fake ID’s, according to the indictment. In 1991 Thurston was convicted of setting fire to trucks belonging to a fish company in Edmonton. In 1992, he and former ALF spokesperson David Barbarash were convicted of attacking a University of Alberta research lab and freeing 29 cats. Thurston served two years in prison for those acts.
Suzanne Nicole “India” Savoie, 28, turned herself in to the FBI in Oregon and is charged with serving as a lookout during a January 2001 firebombing of lumber mill in Glendale, Oregon, which caused over $1 million in damage. ELF claimed responsibility for that fire. Savoie said she was the girlfriend of another defendant, Daniel G. McGowan, at the time of the firebombing, according to the FBI affidavit. McGowan, 31, was arrested in New York City and faces charges related to the Glendale fire as well as a May 2001 fire at the Jefferson Poplar Farm in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Stanislas G. Meyerhoff, 28, was arrested in Charlottesville, Virginia, and faces charges related to several incidents. Meyerhoff allegedly co-wrote an online document titled “Setting Fire with Electrical Timers, an Earth Liberation Front Guide.” The document provides operational instructions and advice and is available for download on several Web sites.
Kevin M. Tubbs, 36, was arrested in Springfield, Oregon, and faces charges related to several incidents, including a $1.2 million arson at a U.S. Department of Agriculture Building in Olympia, Washington, in June 1998.
Sarah Kendall Harvey, 28, was arrested in Flagstaff, Arizona, and charged with one count of attempted arson and one count of arson in connection with a December 1998 fire at U.S. Forest Industries in Medford, Oregon, which caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.
Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, 28, was arrested in Portland, Oregon, and is charged with knocking down an 80-foot transmission tower outside Bend in December 1999. Gerlach also is named in a federal arson complaint involving a 1999 fire at Childers Meat Company in Eugene that caused over $1 million in damage.
Joseph Dibee, Josephine Sunshine Overaker and Rebecca Rubin have not been arrested yet.