Undercover police officers arrested two Atlantic City, N.J., women for allegedly selling them the makings of five pipe bombs, a rifle with a scope and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. Police announced the arrests at a press conference Tuesday.
Police learned Oct. 5 that Danielle Demers, identified in reports as a transgender woman, was attempting to sell the materials along with instructions to assemble the pipe bombs. Chief Henry White said the instructions included filling the bombs with nails for shrapnel.
Capt. James Sarkos said patrol Officers Alberto Valles and Christopher Dodson were “instrumental” in getting “information that sparked the whole investigation.”
White added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office launched a joint operation to retrieve the items. Atlantic City Detectives Brian Hambrecht and Nick Berardis led the investigation, where the items were sold to police. It is unclear how the investigation unfolded.
The Atlantic City Police Department SWAT Team arrested Demers, 37, while she was leaving her South Pennsylvania Avenue apartment. Detectives later arrested 31-year-old Nina House, of Margate, contending she allegedly conspired with Demers to sell the items.
Authorities at the press conference said there was no evidence indicating Demers and House planned to set the bombs or to use the rifle. Bomb Squad Commander Jerry Barnhart said the shrapnel could travel as far as 1,000 feet. At this time, police said they do not believe the suspects are tied to terrorism.
"But we are very concerned about the destructive nature of these devices, and the damage they could've caused if they got out there," Sarkos said. "Our investigation revealed that they were actively trying to sell these things to anyone who would give them money."
Both suspects were taken to the Atlantic County Justice Facility and charged with conspiracy, unlawful possession of a destructive device, possession of a destructive device for an unlawful purpose, possession of an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose, unlawful sale of a firearm and unlawfully teaching another to use an explosive.
“We take every threat seriously,” said Timothy Gallagher, special agent in charge of the Newark FBI Field Office. “In that light, we urge the public to report any and all suspicious activity to the FBI or any of our partners.”
White said the investigation is still ongoing but no other suspects are believed to be involved at this time.
Individuals with information about this incident can call Atlantic City Police Department Special Investigations Section at 609-347-5858. Additionally, information can be anonymously texted to tip411 (847411), by beginning the text with ACPD.
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