A Colorado man, who said that he was an ex-Marine and claimed a “right-wing declaration of independence/constitutionalist political manifesto,” built improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to trade for cocaine and hoarded several military-style assault weapons that may have been converted to machine guns, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.
According to an affidavit, federal agents with the Bureau of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided the home of Richard Lawrence Sandberg in Jefferson County on Thursday after he provided an undercover agent with homemade bombs.
After receiving a tip from a Denver Police Department detective, ATF Special Agent Shane Abraham contacted Sandberg and told him he needed an explosive device to protect a building. Sandberg, who claimed to be “former Special Ops Recon SS Marine Corps,” allegedly said that he was in possession of “incendiary” or “napalm” explosives, but the devices were wrong for the job. The suspect then recommended a “frag” — or fragmentation device — and suggested that he could provide something that was also waterproof.
Sandberg claimed that the kill zone for his “frags” was 20-meters and the hurt zone was 60-meters, the affidavit said. He called his IEDs “homemade shit” that were built with materials from Home Depot and were “life or death.” The suspect said that he also had 18 military-grade M67 fragmentation hand grenades, but would only sell five.
During their first meeting on Tuesday, Sandberg told Abraham that he had built claymore explosives with glass shrapnel while serving in war zones, and that the shrapnel could not be detected in bodies of the victims. The affidavit said that Sandberg “claimed a right-wing declaration of independence/constitutionalist political manifesto” and worried that the Obama administration’s current gun safety push was an effort to take away his guns.
Sandberg explained to Abraham that he was ready to die and that an Marine Special Forces Reconnaissance team would need to take him out because civilian SWAT teams did not have the capability. He showed the ATF agent Kevlar ballistic panels and iron doors with “gun turret/cut outs” that he used to fortify his home in case of a siege. Sandberg said that he was in possession of a Berretta pistol, an H&K .45 pistol, an AR-15 5.56 mm rifle and a .50-caliber rifle. And he suggested that at least one of the weapons had been illegally converted into a fully-automatic machine gun.
“Sandberg also stated that he was in possession of several thousand rounds of ammunition and also in possession of uranium-tipped, armor-piercing ammunition,” the affidavit noted.
ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer Gary Smith Certified Explosives Specialist Matthew Traver determined that three sample devices obtained from Sandberg qualified as destructive devices under federal law.
Agents discovered a “Fire Obama” sign in his second floor window and a U.S. Marine Corps flag in his front yard when they raided his home.
“Improvised Explosive Devices – IEDs – are against federal law, and with good reason: They have no legitimate purpose, and put an entire neighborhood at risk,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement. “Thanks to strong cooperation between state, local and federal law enforcement in this case, a person who built IEDs has been apprehended and those devices recovered and neutralized.”
Sandberg faced an initial charge of “one count of possession of a firearm (which includes explosive devices) which is not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record,” the statement said. Additional charges could be forthcoming.
Watch this video from KMGH-TV, broadcast Jan. 24, 2013.