California Business Owner Charged With Possession Of Five Pipe Bombs, Other Unregistered Devices

January 28, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

Photo courtesy: Napa County Sheriff’s Office

California business owner, Ian Benjamin Rogers, 43, of Napa County, was charged this week by federal authorities with the possession of unregistered destructive devices following a joint investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and the Napa Special Investigations Bureau, which discovered five operational pipe bombs and “the material to make more” after a search of his home and business. 

He was arraigned Jan 20. in the Napa County Superior Court, where he also faced state illegal firearm charges, including 28 felony counts of possessing bombs and illegal firearms. The Napa County Sheriff’s Office said federal and state law enforcement recovered five pipe bombs and several pounds of gunpowder, along with more than 50 guns — some of them illegal or unregistered — and 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

Local daily the Napa Valley Register had previously reported that “a bomb squad blocked the driveway to British Auto Repair and a nearby section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail as various objects removed from the garage were detonated in a bunker assembled from old tires, with several small pops followed by a final, larger bang.”

Photo courtesy: Federal criminal complaint against Rogers

According to a release from the Department of Justice, Rogers was arrested Jan. 15, and a search warrant was served on his home and his auto business in Napa County. Following that, officers found a large gun safe at his business. Inside the safe, the officers and agents discovered and seized several guns and the five pipe bombs. They also identified other materials at the scene that could be used to manufacture destructive devices, “including black powder, pipes, endcaps, and manuals, including The Anarchist Cookbook, U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, and Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival.” They also found two copies of a U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare, and a U.S. Army Guerrilla Warfare Handbook.

The criminal complaint stated that on Rogers’s vehicle window, officers found a sticker believed to be representative of the “Three Percenters,” a rightwing militia group who ascribe to extreme anti-government, pro-gun beliefs. According to the SPLC, “The reference to 3 percent stems from the dubious historical claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British during the War of Independence.”

The criminal complaint also stated that they found what they believed to be a “White Privilege card” (see pic). The FBI special agent-in-charge wrote: “I believe that the statement “Trumps Everything” and the numbers “0045” repeated four times (to make it look like a credit card number), are references to Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States … Further, text messages recovered from ROGERS’s phone indicate his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, and his intent to attack Democrats and places associated with Democrats in an effort to ensure Trump remained in office.”

Agents believe that text messages found on Rogers’s phone, including, “I’m thinking sac office first target” and “Then maybe bird and face offices,” were a reference to the Sacramento office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the corporate offices of Twitter and Facebook, as both social media platforms had banned former President Trump.

Photo courtesy: Federal criminal complaint against Rogers

Authorities reported finding approximately two dozen ammunition boxes containing thousands of rounds of ammunition. Several of the firearms, including what appears to be a kit-built replica MG-42 belt-fed machine gun, appear to be capable of firing fully automatic. The FBI stated that they had asked a Napa County Sheriff’s Office bomb technician to examine the pipe bombs and a preliminary report described them as “7-inch-long segments of galvanized pipe with end caps screwed on and 1 to 2.5 inches of fuse material sticking out of a hole in one of the end caps.”

Inside the pipes, the bomb tech found black powder material consistent with the material found inside a plastic bottle of Hogdon Rifle Powder gunpowder that was also seized from Rogers’s residence. Special Agent Stephanie Minor wrote in the federal complaint, “I know from my research that Hogdon Rifle Powder is commercially-available gunpowder that can be used for reloading bullets. The bomb technician conducted a burn test on a sample from the powder taken from one of the pipe bombs. He put some powder on the concrete and applied heat to one end. The powder burned unconfined. He also examined the fuses and determined them to be common fuses which can be purchased over the internet or at hobby stores. Based on his examination and tests, the bomb technician concluded that ROGERS constructed 5 improvised explosive devices that were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly.”

Photo courtesy: Federal criminal complaint against Rogers

Rogers reportedly later told authorities he was building the incendiary devices for “entertainment.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) checked the National Firearms Registry and determined had no registrations for any destructive devices registered to him. Rogers already was being held on $5 million bail on state charges when prosecutors filed the federal case.