3 arrested near Joshua Tree after explosives found, deputies say

Three people who described themselves as “sovereign citizens” were arrested near Joshua Tree National Park on Saturday after officers found multiple explosives in their vehicle and home, authorities said.

According to a department press release, deputies with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department found them illegally possessing a “military-grade improvised explosive device,” as well as other explosives, ammunition and firearms.

Deputies stopped two men, Jeffery Russell, 46, and David Russell, 50, in a white Ford Taurus around 10 a.m. Saturday on the Twentynine Palms Highway in the Yucca Valley on allegations of violating vehicle regulations, the press release said. Both men said they are sovereign citizens, people who are typically anti-government and feel exempt from US laws, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The non-profit organization tracks such extremist movements and has linked some violent incidents to the sovereign citizens’ movement.

MPs said they also found the two men were prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, but the press release did not say why. The sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to questions about that detail or fulfill a request for the incident report.

A search of the vehicle, however, deputies found “live ammunition, black gunpowder and a military-grade improvised explosive device,” the press release said.

Deputies later obtained a search warrant to search the men’s property, which they described as a “remote estate of sovereign citizens” in Johnson Valley, an area about 30 miles north of Yucca Valley, the press release said. That’s where deputies found Venus Mooney, 54, as well as additional military-grade explosives, more ammunition and firearms.

The sheriff’s Bomb and Arson Division was called to safely dispose of the explosives, the press release said.

Both Russells and Mooney were arrested and detained in Morongo Basin Jail while armed on charges of possession of an explosive device and possession of a controlled substance, the press release said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-20/three-sovereign-citizens-arrested-joshua-tree-national-park-multiple-explosives 3 arrested near Joshua Tree after explosives found, deputies say

Alley Einstein

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