Eco-terrorist’s arrest renews call for tougher federal legislation |

Eco-terrorist’s arrest renews call for tougher federal legislation

Jeff Munson

The arrest of an Earth Liberation Front leader allegedly linked to sabotage in Nevada shows the need for legislation to make eco-terrorism a federal crime, U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said Tuesday.

Tre Arrow, also known as Michael Scarpitti, was on the FBI’s most wanted list for more than a year as a fugitive accused of two arson attacks linked to the Earth Liberation Front. Arrow was arrested March 13 in British Columbia allegedly trying to shoplift a pair of bolt cutters. He remains in jail awaiting extradition to the United States.

ELF is believed to have been instrumental in 600 acts of vandalism since 1997 totaling more than $100 million in damages, including the firebombing of a federal wild-horse corral near the Nevada-California border in 2001 and the July 25, 2001, tampering with safety circuits and cables at Heavenly’s Gondola.

In that incident, the gondola’s safety sensors broke during a regular safety check.

It was discovered the sensors had been tied to a steel cable from which the gondola runs. Beside a base tower, the acronym ELF was spelled out in black wires.

“Militant organizations like ELF do nothing to protect our environment; they only destroy public property, endanger lives, and devastate local economies,” Gibbons said. “Eco-terrorist groups like the Earth Liberation Front have wreaked devastation and havoc too many times. Hopefully, the arrest of ELF leaders like Tre Arrow will lead to the eventual demise of eco-terrorist organizations, bringing them to justice once and for all.”

As co-sponsor of the Stop Terrorism of Property Act, Gibbons said it is time for Washington leaders to take a strong stance against eco-terrorism by making it a federal offense.

The act introduced in the House of Representatives in October would amend the federal criminal code to prohibit intentionally affecting interstate or foreign commerce by damaging the property of another with the intent to influence the public with regard to conduct the offender considers harmful to the environment.

“This bill brings attention to the militant and destructive actions of these groups by punishing them under a new federal environmental terrorism statute,” Gibbons said. “We need to strengthen our commitment to defeating all forms of terrorism, including domestic eco-terrorism which has caused destruction across the United States.”

Arrow’s arrest follows the March 9 arrest of Billy Cottrell, 23, a physics student at California Institute of Technology, who was indicted for vandalism last August that damaged or destroyed about 125 vehicles at car dealerships and homes in the San Gabriel Valley. He remains in jail without bond and will be arraigned Monday.