Police Hope to 'Knock Off Legs' of Eco-Terrorists.

spectr17

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Police Hope to 'Knock Off Legs' of Eco-Terrorists.

July 21, 2001, 01:00 PM  

By AP Staff

Investigators are focusing on at least three suspects in a string of Northwest arsons that have caused $7.4 million in damage over the past 10 months, police said Friday.

The suspects, believed to be members of the radical environmental group the Earth Liberation Front, used "signature" firebombs that link them to five arsons from Eugene to Seattle, The Oregonian reported in its Saturday edition.

Investigators did not release the suspects' names or say where police suspect they are hiding.

A multiagency task force says the ELF arsonists first struck a Eugene police substation last Sept. 6. Then they set fire to Glendale's Superior Lumber on Jan. 2 and the Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene on March 30. In their most sophisticated attack, the saboteurs set near-simultaneous fires May 21 at Jefferson Poplar Farm near Clatskanie and the University of Washington's horticulture center in Seattle.

"We think we've got the right group of people," said Eugene police Capt. Thad Buchanan, spokesman for the task force that includes detectives from the Eugene Police Department, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, Lane County Sheriff's Office, state police and the U.S. Forest Service.

"When we make this case, I think we're going to knock the legs right out from under them," he said.

The ELF says it sabotages enterprises that harm the natural world. They have frequently set fire to logging companies, commercial developers, biotech enterprises and federal agencies that manage forests and wildlife.

Members of the ELF typically commit crimes and then claim responsibility for them through intermediaries, such as Portland's Craig Rosebraugh. Rosebraugh says he is not a member of the ELF and does not know any members -- but relays anonymous releases he receives.

He could not be reached for comment Friday.

All five Northwest fires were ignited by incendiaries made with cheap digital timers and large containers of fuel, said task force member John McMahon, an ATF agent in Portland.

The five cases linked by the task force occurred between Eugene and Seattle, all within a 20-mile drive of Interstate 5, all between 2:15 and 4:21 a.m.

Similarly, three 1998 arsons claimed by the Earth Liberation Front near I-5 -- including blazes at a wood-products company in Medford and two U.S. Department of Agriculture research facilities near Olympia, Wash., -- also might be the work of the same core group of saboteurs, Buchanan said.

In addition, investigators say they will rely on a fingerprint found in the ruins of the car dealership and the FBI's analyses of the press releases to help prosecute the arsonists.

To date, the ELF has claimed responsibility for attacks totaling $25 million nationwide. The front is thought to be responsible for 15 arsons in the West, seven in Oregon.

The Western crimes include a $12 million blaze at a Colorado ski resort in 1998, the costliest act of destruction by a radical environmental group in U.S. history.

Law enforcement officials made the first arrests of alleged ELF saboteurs in Indiana and New York earlier this year, but authorities have yet to make arrests in the West.

"There were a lot of radical groups in the '60s and '70s (responsible for arsons and bombings)," Buchanan said. "And what brought those groups down was taking key figures and locking them up. And I don't think it will be any different in this case."
 

BigDog

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hmmmmm, I usually only shoot what I eat. But, this soulds like a varmit that might be worthwhile as a target for zeroing in my scope.
 

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