The Guardian (UK) is reporting that Chelsea Gerlach, one of the six suspects busted by the feds on December 7, 2005 for ecoterrorism, may be implicated with the 1998 Vail Colorado arson that resulted in $12 million damages, a "direct action" that the terrorist ELF (Earth Liberation Front) took responsibility for:
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - One of six people arrested in a string of ecoterrorism attacks in the Northwest is also suspected in half a dozen other cases, including the 1998 firebombing of a Colorado ski resort that caused $12 million in damage, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
Chelsea Gerlach was ordered held without bail after Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdahl made the allegations against her.
Federal public defender Craig Weinerman argued that the evidence against Gerlach was meager.
Gerlach, 28, was among six people arrested in five states last week on indictments alleging they set fires and damaged property between 1998 and 2001 in Oregon and Washington. The Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front took responsibility for the crimes.
Gerlach, of Portland, is charged with helping two others topple a Bonneville Power Administration high-tension line 25 miles east of Bend in 1999.
Engdahl said he will present evidence to a grand jury Wednesday seeking indictments against Gerlach in a 1999 meatpacking fire in Eugene and a 2001 firebombing at a tree farm in Clatskanie.
The prosecutor also said Gerlach is suspected in the 1998 firebombing of the ski resort at Vail, Colo., one of the most notorious crimes in the U.S. that has been linked to ecoterrorists.
He said she is suspected as well in a 1998 attempted arson at Bureau of Land Management wild horse corrals in Rock Springs, Wyo.; a 1999 the arson at a Boise Cascade office in Monmouth, Ore.; and a 2001 firebombing of a University of Washington horticultural research center in Seattle.
Weinerman said the evidence against Gerlach so far amounted only to statements from two informants involved in the meatpacking plant arson.
Ms Gerlach seems to have been a busy little bee.
The Vail arson has been, as the report indicates, one of the most notorious acts of eco-terrorism perpetrated by agents of the ELF. If it should prove true that Ms Gerlach did the deed, it would be a coup for the feds and a blow to the eco-terrorists. They are not invincible, beyond the reach of the law.
The arrest of Ms Gerlach should chill everyone who has engaged in this sort of "direct action" and who may think that because s/he hasn't yet been busted, s/he will remain free.
It appears that the arrest of these six individuals is a really big deal, bigger than I'd originally figured, and is evidence that the feds are taking eco-terrorism deadly seriously.
UPDATE: 12/14/05, 8:55 AM, PST: More here on the possible connection of Gerbach to the Vail arson.