Federal Agents Bust Colorado Man in Alleged Bombs-for-Drugs Sting
(MORRISON, Colo.) -- A Colorado man who claimed to be a former demolition expert in the U.S. Marines was arrested Thursday after he allegedly tried to trade guns and homemade bombs with a 20-meter “kill zone” for cocaine.
Richard Lawrence Sandberg, 35, was taken into custody Thursday at his Morrison, Colo. home, ATF spokesman Bradley Beyersdorf told ABC News. Sandberg is facing one count of unlawful possession of a firearm or explosive device.
According to court documents, police became aware of Sandberg on Jan. 18, when a confidential informant told a Denver police detective that Sandberg wanted to trade “numerous firearms and grenades” for drugs. The Denver police detective then contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On Tuesday, the documents say, an undercover ATF agent met with Sandberg at his home.
Sandberg allegedly told the undercover agent that he was in possession of 18 M67 military grenades that he offered to sell for $200 to $300 a piece, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint did not say where Sandberg may have gotten the grenades, but said, “Sandberg claimed to have been active in war zones in Iraq, Somalia, Africa and Pakistan.”
“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 complaint said.
In addition to the grenades, Sandberg allegedly claimed to have about a dozen homemade bombs, called “frags,” designed to create a “kill zone” within 20 meters and a “hurt zone” within 60 meters if they went off. The complaint says Sandberg also claimed to have access to C4 plastic explosives and napalm.
In one conversation, Sandberg “made disparaging remarks about the current administration and them wanting to take away his guns,” according to the complaint.
If any law enforcement officers tried to take his guns, the complaint says Sandberg told the agent that “it would be a bad day for them and lots of them would die. Sandberg stated that he was ready and willing to die.”
At one point, the undercover ATF agent offered to pay for pipe bombs and a small explosive called a “cricket.” Sandberg refused, the complaint says, instead insisting that “they could set up a trade for cocaine.”
During the Thursday operation, the street in front of Sandberg’s home was blocked for several hours while ATF agents and three local bomb squads made sure the house was safe. Multiple improvised explosive devices were taken from the house and rendered safe at a remote location, according to U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Jeffrey Dorchner.
One house next door to Sandberg’s had to be temporarily evacuated, Beyersdorf said.
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