Guns, Ammunition, Explosive Devices Seized at Ranch
PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Guns, ammunition, explosive devices and bomb-making pamphlets were among items seized from a ranch belonging to one of four men accused of conspiring to rob an armored truck, the FBI said Wednesday.
The ranch, located 35 miles east of Kingman in northwestern Arizona, belongs to Jack Maxwell Oliphant, who was arrested along with eight other people on allegations stemming from a two-year investigation of a right-wing group known as the Arizona Patriots.
According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ronald Meyers, the agent in charge of the investigation, a search of the ranch on Tuesday turned up a variety of guns and ammunition, at least two homemade bombs, blasting caps, black powder and various chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives.
The search also turned up books and pamphlets on the manufacture and use of explosives and on unconventional warfare, Meyers’ affidavit said.
Meyers described the Oliphant ranch as consisting of 320 acres with no permanent buildings, electricity or water. There were two camper trailers, a horse trailer and a large tent on the ranch.
The 63-year-old Oliphant planned to operate a ″war games″ camp on the ranch, in which customers would pay to ″dress in camouflage fatigues and shoot each other with compressed-air guns that shoot paint pellets,″ Meyers testified Wednesday during a bond hearing for Oliphant and three co- defendants.
Oliphant was armed with a ″short-barrelled shotgun and a .44 Magnum handgun″ but offered no resistance when FBI agents arrested him on Monday, Meyers said.
U.S. Magistrate Morton Sitver ordered Oliphant held without bond pending arraignment next week. Sitver refused bond for Daniel Taylor Arthur, 25, and Monte Dayton Ross, 22, also arrested Monday on or near the ranch. Bond was set at $75,000 for Patrick Henry Schlecht and $25,000 for his wife, Rita, both of Kingman.
Mrs. Schlecht was not accused of being part of the conspiracy, but was arrested after she allegedly pointed a gun at an FBI agent during her husband’s arrest Monday.
Oliphant, Arthur, Ross and Schlecht were charged in a federal indictment returned Wednesday with conspiring to commit bank robbery.
They are accused of plotting to use explosives and disabling gas to rob a Wells Fargo armored truck as it carried casino money from Laughlin, Nev.
An undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Arizona Patriots reported that Oliphant also planned to bomb synagogues in Phoenix, Meyers testified.
He said Oliphant abandoned the idea when the undercover agent persuaded him that bombing synagogues would interfere with the plan to hijack the armored truck.
Meyers said Oliphant lived in one of the trailers on his ranch and Arthur lived in the tent. Ross testified he had camped for about a week in a desert wash about five miles from the ranch where he trapped ″varmints″ for their fur.
Roger Dokken, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, described Ross as ″the bomb-maker for this whole conspiracy.″