Two animal-rights activists were arrested Friday and charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips which they released about 5,740 mink from farms and vandalized homes and businesses of industry, the FBI said.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Joseph Brian Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Juanita Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, California. They both were charged with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Friday said the two caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages during 40,000 miles of cross-country trips over the summer and into the fall of 2013.
"Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your opinions known," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. "The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can't be permitted to continue."
Buddenberg and Kissane are accused of sneaking onto farms in Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota to free mink. They also allegedly destroyed breeding records as well. In one case, they released a bobcat rom a farm in Montana, according to the FBI.
Among other crimes, the pair allegedly drove from Oregon to Southern California with paint, paint stripper, Super Glue and two types of acid to vandalize Furs By Graf in San Diego and the homes of its current owners in San Diego, Spring Valley and La Mesa, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. They are also charged with vandalizing and attempting to flood the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin home of an employee of the North American Fur Auctions.
The indictment states that they covered their tracks by avoiding phones or logging into known online accounts and email. Instead, they used public Internet computers and encrypted email and cash for purchases while traveling. They would allegedly withdraw hundreds of dollars while back home in the San Francisco Bay Area before another trip.
The FBI states that they drafted communiques and posted them online to publicize their actions on websites associated with "animal rights extremists."
The two were under house arrest with electronic monitoring until a scheduled court date on Tuesday. It was not clear whether either has hired an attorney.
If convicted, they each face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.