Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrested a Spokane, Washington, man after finding a huge arsenal of military-grade weapons in a storage facility he was renting.
Ronald L. Struve, 65, is charged with illegally possessing automatic weapons including grenade launchers, rockets, machine guns and plastic explosives, and illegally storing them.
During the search of Struve's Spokane home, agents found anti-government literature, including a bumper sticker reading, "End the Fed," an example of the hostility of anti-government extremists to the Federal Reserve. Right-wing anti-government extremists (the so-called "patriot" movement) generally believe that Federal Reserve Notes (i.e., paper money) are not legitimate currency, and advocate repealing the entire Federal Reserve U.S. banking system. Recent "End-the-Fed" rallies have taken place across the United States promoting legislation to repeal the Federal Reserve Act.
Struve's attorney characterized his client's ideology as "unusual political views."
Agents were first alerted to the situation in early November, after the rent for Struve's public storage locker went unpaid and the lot auctioned off the contents. The man who purchased the contents brought the weapons home, but called the ATF after realizing that many of the items were illegal to possess, including over seven pounds of C-4 plastic explosives.
Months of investigation connected the items to Struve, who has reportedly not denied ownership.
Following his January 6, 2009, arrest, agents searched two additional storage units and a stored vehicle belonging to and leased to Struve, where they discovered more weapons.
In part, agents have seized 37 machine guns, a Russian sniper rifle, an AK-47 assault rifle, two grenade launchers, 54 grenades, 12 silencers, the C-4 explosives, and various machine gun parts that are illegal to own without federal licenses. Over 30 legal firearms are also currently being kept in federal custody for safekeeping while the investigation continues.
According to the authorities, Struve told the agents that he did not have any intention of selling the weapons, but believed that he would need to use them at some point in the future.
Struve was transferred from Spokane to Seattle, where he appeared in federal court for a preliminary hearing on January 23. He was ordered held without bond as a danger to the community and a flight risk.
Struve may face additional charges.
On August 14, 2009, a federal judge in Seattle sentenced Ronald Struve, 67, to four years in prison, three years of probation, and mental health counseling.
On March 13, 2009, Struve pleaded guilty to five federal charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in U.S. District Court in Seattle, including one count of possession of plastic explosives, and four counts of possessing unregistered firearms. Among his arsenal were a North Vietnamese machine gun, a silencer, a grenade launcher, and a grenade.