Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Man charged with possessing weapons arsenal


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents charged a 65-year-old Spokane man Tuesday with possession of an arsenal of military weapons and explosives that he had stashed in a Bellevue commercial storage unit.

Ronald Struve's alleged cache of weapons -- which includes dozens of machine guns and blocks of C-4 plastic explosives -- was discovered by a man who purchased at auction the contents of the storage unit at 12863 Northrup Way when rent on the unit lapsed, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

ATF Special Agent Heidi Wallace received a call from the winning bidder at the auction last November who explained that there were firearms among the items he had purchased "and that he wanted ATF to examine the firearms to determine whether they were legal to possess."

Over the next two days Wallace and other agents found crates of firearms, munitions and high explosives including 54 40MM M406 grenades, the complaint says. They also found silencers, flares, CS gas grenades, 41 pounds of gunpowder and blasting caps.

Agents tracked Struve to Spokane where he was arrested Jan. 6, then returned to Seattle for Tuesday's hearing. Agents initially charged Struve with one count of unlawful storage of explosives and one count of possession of unregistered firearms. The firearms charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Because Strove was charged by complaint, the case will likely be referred to a grand jury, which could return other charges against him.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler ordered Struve held pending a detention hearing later in the week.

An ATF source said after the hearing that there is no evidence that Struve assembled the arsenal for terrorism purposes, but declined to elaborate on what motivated him.

No comments: