Suspect in string of ecoterrorism fires surrenders

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm •  Published: November 29, 2012
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One of the three remaining fugitives in a string of high-profile fires across the West that focused national attention on a group of environmental radicals surrendered to authorities Thursday after spending years in hiding in Canada.

The U.S. attorney's office in Portland, Ore., said Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, a Canadian citizen, turned herself in to the FBI at the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash.

Rubin was part of a cell of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front known as The Family, based in Eugene, Ore., authorities said.

The former wildlife researcher was arrested after spending a decade as an international fugitive from the largest ecoterrorism investigation in U.S. history, the U.S. attorney's office said. She was part of a cell of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front known as The Family and based in Eugene, Ore.

Rubin was sought on conspiracy and arson indictments dating to 2006 alleging she helped set fires at the Vail ski resort in Colorado and at federal wild horse corrals in Eastern Oregon and Northern California, and tried to set fire to a lumber mill office in Medford, Ore.

Rubin is not specifically charged with terrorism, but the indictment alleges she and the other members of The Family tried to influence businesses and the government and tried to retaliate against the government. Prosecutors won terrorism enhancements at sentencing for some of the others in the case.

Ten others pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy and arson and were sentenced to prison. Two others remain at large.

At the time, the FBI characterized the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front as the top domestic terrorism threats in the nation.

Authorities have said the Earth Liberation Front cell was responsible for 20 arsons around the West from 1996 to 2001 that did $40 million in damage. The highest-profile case was the 1998 fire that destroyed a restaurant and other facilities at the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado. Other targets included a plant research facility at the University of Washington and several businesses and other structures Oregon — a horse slaughterhouse, U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, a power transmission tower, a tree farm and an SUV dealership.

The group disbanded in 2001, but a federal taskforce known as Operation Backfire turned an informant and broke open the cell in 2005.

By then, the group's leader, William C. Rodgers, was running a bookstore in Prescott, Ariz. After his arrest, Rodgers committed suicide in jail. Authorities described him as a Svengali-like guru and sexual predator who liked to call himself Avalon, after an island from the legend of King Arthur.



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