January 8, 2009 in City

Spokane man arrested after weapons found

Large cache discovered in Bellevue storage unit
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press
 

Federal agents alerted to a large cache of military explosives and other weapons in a Bellevue storage unit have arrested a Spokane man.

Ronald L. Struve made a brief appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane and was ordered transferred to the jurisdiction of the federal court in Seattle, where the case will be prosecuted.

Struve and his public defender said little in court; he will remain in custody until his next court appearance.

The man told a federal agent he “planned to use the items at some uncertain date,” according to court papers.

Struve was arrested Tuesday at his home and was being held on one count of storing high explosives in an illegal manner, and one count of possessing firearms not registered to him.

Nick Starkovich, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Seattle, said it was the largest cache of military weapons he can remember the agency seizing in this region.

The weapons and explosives definitely are from the military, and agents were tracing lot numbers to learn where they came from, he said.

Federal officials were tightlipped about the case, including a possible motive for acquiring the weapons.

“The matter is still under investigation,” said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Seattle.

Court documents said the explosives were stored in a commercial storage facility in Bellevue, east of Seattle.

The ATF received a call on Nov. 13 from a person who had bought the contents of the storage unit after the renter failed to pay rent. The buyer discovered machine guns and a grenade in the boxes.

Federal agents sorted through a variety of grenades, fuses, C-4 plastic explosive, blasting caps, flares, mortar charges, rockets, pounds of gunpowder, gun silencers and other weapons.

Struve was linked to the weapons when agents found the contents contained two Alaska Airlines tags, plus some insurance documents, bearing his name.

Court documents said the unit had been rented since 1990 under the name Gary Moll. The last payment was made on Aug. 11. The contents were sold on Nov. 3.

Agents showed the rental unit manager Struve’s Washington driver license photo and the manager identified him as the man he knew as Moll.

Struve told an ATF agent “that he did not plan to sell the items from the storage unit, but rather he planned to use the items at some uncertain date in the future,” court documents said.

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