Three North Idaho men have been charged with conspiracy and possession of stolen explosives in connection with the theft of about 500 pounds of “stick powder” from the Lucky Friday mine in July.
A Boise grand jury Wednesday indicted Kent A. Johnson, Corey L. Miller and Joseph E. Tepner-Galland, saying they arranged the break-in and planned to sell the explosives to others.
All three remain in the Spokane County Jail without bail.
If convicted of both crimes, each man could serve up to 20 years in prison and pay fines of up to $250,000.
Tepner-Galland, 26, of Coeur d’Alene, faces a third charge: being a felon in possession of explosives. His record includes burglary convictions in Idaho and Montana.
Federal officials say Miller, 34, of Osburn, and Johnson, 31, of Coeur d’Alene, devised a plan to obtain explosives from a mine where Miller had formerly worked.
They have acknowledged they broke into an explosives shed at the mine on July 30 and removed 10 cases of “stick powder” explosives and detonating cord.
Tepner-Galland later admitted he helped drive the explosives from Johnson’s Coeur d’Alene property to a lake near Sandpoint.
Officials have recovered more than 400 pounds of the explosives. The three men were arrested separately within two weeks of the break-in.
The theft and later reports that Johnson had ties to militia groups and a terrorist organization raised concerns across the Northwest.
Because Miller alleged that Johnson might sell the explosives to a Canadian terrorist group that wanted to blow up a dam, dam operators in British Columbia placed security guards on maximum alert.
Investigators tried to find out if Johnson, an unemployed construction worker, had connections to area militia groups and even the Aryan Nations group in Hayden Lake.
During Johnson’s first court appearance last month, prosecutors said he also is a member of “The Circle,” an alleged gang that sells methamphetamine and other drugs in the area.
Johnson has denied having connections to terrorist or militia groups.
He also said, in a jail interview, that he planned to sell the explosives to a Canadian rancher who needed them to remove beaver dams on his land.
Arraignments on the federal charges will take place in Moscow.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Herb Byerly said investigators are continuing their search for additional explosives.
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