Navy sailor accused of stealing hand grenades told investigators Mexican ‘cartel’ may have some, officials say


A Navy sailor could face up to a decade in prison and a $250,000 fine after being arrested this week on charges he stole 20 hand grenades from a San Diego-based destroyer.

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron Booker, 31, of Waukegan, Illinois, was taken into custody in Great Lakes on Tuesday by U.S. Navy criminal investigators and was expected to be returned to California. The grenades were discovered missing from their storage crates in February 2017 and found months later on the side of Interstate 15 in northwest Arizona.

“A backpack full of grenades on the side of the road is obviously extremely dangerous and could have had resulted in injuries or death,” U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman said in a statement. “The theft of explosives is a very serious offense, particularly if it is carried out by an insider with access to military weapons and secrets.”

Booker stole the concussion grenades — each of which contained about a half-pound of TNT — while he was assigned to the Weapons Department aboard the USS Pinckney, prosecutors said. Booker’s job was to check the temperature of the secured locker where the grenades were kept.

In a call to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, Booker also said the two missing grenades might be in Tijuana because a former motorcycle club he belonged to was linked to two people who had connections to the “cartel,” and who had requested for the explosives to be stolen, Stars and Stripes reported, citing the complaint. – READ MORE

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