Monday, December 19, 2005
Hundreds of Pounds of Explosives Missing in ABQ
By Tim Korte/
Authorities asked the public for help Monday after "several hundred pounds'' of high explosives turned up missing from a private storage site, along with about 2,500 blasting caps and an undisclosed length of explosive detonation cord.
"In the hands of the wrong person, this material can be very, very destructive,'' Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said during a news conference.
Wayne Dixie, resident agent in charge of the Albuquerque office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the missing material could be used to level a building.
"It could be very extensive, if it was in the hands of the right people and they knew how to use it,'' he said.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said investigators haven't determined exactly when the explosives were stolen or precisely how much was taken.
"There are several hundred pounds that are missing,'' Schultz said. "We're still in the process of quantifying the amount.''
Dixie cautioned there was no evidence to suggest a link to terrorism but said investigators have no leads or suspects. Authorities are offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that helps them recover the goods.
The materials were reported missing at 4 p.m. Sunday from Cherry Engineering Inc. Dixie said the company performs "research for the law enforcement community'' but declined to elaborate or disclose the location of the burglarized site.
"It's not in the city proper. It's in Bernalillo County,'' Schultz said.
Cherry Engineering was federally certified as an explosives storage facility and was in compliance with ATF regulations, Dixie said. The site was inspected weekly, though it wasn't immediately known when the most recent visit occurred.
Company officials were cooperating with investigators.
The missing amount is roughly big enough to fit into a truck, van or SUV, police spokesman John Walsh said. The explosives were stored in large rolls.
"It looks like plumber's putty rolled up in wax paper,'' Walsh said.
The site was processed as a crime scene by ATF and police, and evidence was taken to a police crime lab for analysis.
The FBI and New Mexico State Police also were participating in the investigation.
"I think it's clear from all the agencies that are represented here that this is something we're very concerned about,'' White said.