ATF: Enough plastic explosives "to level a building" missing in NM
By TIM KORTE
Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- About 150 pounds of commercial plastic explosives has disappeared from a private storage site, along with 2,500 blasting caps and 20,000 feet of explosive detonation cord, authorities said Monday.
"In the hands of the wrong person, this material can be very, very destructive," Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said at a news conference.
Wayne Dixie, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the missing material was enough to level a building. Two containers, both stored inside two bunkers southwest of Albuquerque, were burglarized sometime between Dec. 13 and Sunday, authorities said.
Dixie cautioned there was no evidence to suggest a link to terrorism but said investigators had no leads or suspects. Authorities offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information that helps them recover the goods.
The materials were reported missing by the owner of Cherry Engineering Inc. Dixie said the company performs "research for the law enforcement community" but declined to elaborate.
"Our cause for concern is that these materials are highly energetic, military-style explosives that are not commonly used in commercial industry," said ATF spokesman Tom Mangan.
Cherry Engineering was federally certified as an explosives storage facility and was in compliance with ATF regulations, Dixie said. The site was inspected weekly.
Company officials were cooperating with investigators. Mangan said the owner has had no violations since acquiring a license to store explosives in 1990.
The missing explosives are roughly big enough to fit into a truck, van or SUV, police spokesman John Walsh said. "It looks like plumber's putty rolled up in wax paper," he said.