Thursday, February 16, 2012
Connecticut Resident Who Manufactured and Distributed Explosives Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NICHOLAS LAHINES pled guilty today to manufacturing and dealing in explosives and firearms, conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, and immigration fraud. LAHINES, 38, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested in the Bronx on May 19, 2011, immediately after selling eight cylinders containing explosives to a confidential source of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. LAHINES pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Nicholas Lahines’ stock in trade was homemade bombs that he built to cause the maximum amount of harm. And if they’d gotten into the wrong hands, they would have done just that. But thankfully, they did not, and he will now be punished for his crimes.”
According to the complaint, the indictment, the information to which LAHINES pled guilty, the plea agreement, and statements made in court:
During the spring of 2011, law enforcement officers came to suspect that an individual, later identified as LAHINES, was involved in the distribution of explosive devices, and they directed a confidential source (“CS”) to meet with him.
On May 19, 2011, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance of LAHINES’s residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and followed him to a parking lot in the Bronx. There, the CS entered LAHINES’s car, and LAHINES gave the CS two plastic containers that he had retrieved from the trunk. Each of the containers held four cylindrical explosive devices. During the sale of the devices, LAHINES discussed with the CS the components that he had used to make them, including ball bearings, and told the CS that he had added glass and metal to such explosive devices in the past. The CS paid LAHINES $3,200 for the devices, and got out of the car.
LAHINES was then placed under arrest, and bomb technicians immediately took custody of the devices, which were determined to be live explosives in a subsequent forensic examination.
LAHINES was advised of, and waived, his Miranda rights. LAHINES admitted that the eight cylinders were homemade explosive devices that he had made in the vicinity of his Connecticut residence and then transported from Connecticut to New York.
Pursuant to a search warrant, law enforcement officers searched LAHINES’s Connecticut residence. During the search, the agents recovered tubes, cord-like material, and caps similar in appearance to those used to construct the devices that LAHINES had sold to the CS. Agents also found a small jar containing powdery residue in the residence, which detonated in the course of being examined, injuring a law enforcement officer.
In addition to his criminal activity relating to the manufacture and distribution of explosives, LAHINES participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Law enforcement officers found various items that are used in the illegal manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, including hundreds of ephedrine tablets in the trunk of his car.
Law enforcement officers also discovered that LAHINES had engaged in immigration fraud. Specifically, LAHINES filed false documents and other materials with the United States Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service concerning his marriage.
LAHINES pled guilty to four offenses which carry the following potential penalties:
Count Charge Minimum Prison Term Maximum Prison Term
1 Manufacturing and Dealing in Explosive Materials Without a License Not Applicable 10 Years
2 Manufacturing and Dealing in Firearms Without a License Not Applicable Five Years
3 Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine Five Years 40 Years
4 Immigration Fraud Not Applicable 10 Years
LAHINES is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Sand on June 18, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) in New York and Connecticut, especially those JTTF members from the FBI New York Field Office and the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut State Police Department, the FBI New Haven Field Office, the trial attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. He also thanked Kimberly Mertz, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Field Office.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys John P. Cronan and Sean S. Buckley are in charge of the prosecution.