PORTLAND, OR—Today, Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, age 39, a Canadian citizen, surrendered herself into FBI custody at the international border in Blaine, Washington, to face federal arson, destructive device, and conspiracy charges in Oregon, Colorado, and California. Rubin’s arrest marks the end of her decade-long period as an international fugitive in the largest eco-terrorism case in United States history. After an appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Rubin will be transferred in custody to Oregon to face trial.
Rubin is charged in Oregon with being part of a conspiracy with 12 other people involving 20 acts of arson, spanning five years (1996-2001) and five Western states, committed by self-proclaimed members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). According to the indictment, the group sought to influence and affect the conduct of government, private business, and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means.
Rubin’s Oregon charges include her participation in the November 30, 1997 arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County near Burns, and the December 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford.
A Colorado federal indictment charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the October 19, 1998, fires that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Eagle County, Colorado.
An indictment in the Eastern District of California charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in the October 15, 2001 fire at the BLM Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, California.
In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from 156 months to 37 months after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson. Two other defendants, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker, remain at large as international fugitives.
Each count of arson and attempted arson carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, up to a maximum of 20 years. Use of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison. Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years. Each count in the three indictments carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.
The ELF/ALF conspiracy case (Operation Backfire) was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Oregon State Police; the Oregon Department of Justice; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; the U.S. Forest Service; the Eugene Police Department and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted in Oregon by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen F. Peifer.