Sailor arrested for allegedly possessing missing grenades; some Navy explosives ended up with cartel
Investigators arrested a Navy sailor suspected of possessing 20 military grenades that went missing from the USS Pinckney, a San Diego-based destroyer, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
On Tuesday, Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents arrested Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Aaron A. Booker, 31, in Great Lakes, Illinois. The sailor was previously stationed in San Diego.
The G911 grenades, which come 20 to a crate, were being stored in a secured locker aboard the destroyer in January 2016. Each explosive contains about a half-pound of TNT, according to the news outlet.
Most of the explosives, 18 of 20, were later found abandoned on the side of a highway in Arizona. The other two allegedly ended up in the hands of cartel members.
Booker and his gunner mates were the only ones with access to the locker where the grenades were kept, according to authorities.
In February 2017, one case of grades went missing.
NCIS agents interviewed and searched the homes and cars of the sailors, but found nothing.
Some said Booker has been angry with the destroyer’s commanders because of a disciplinary matter, court documents said.
In March 2017, agents interviewed Booker, who had transferred to his new post in Illinois. At that time, he denied having any knowledge of the grenades.
About a month later, an off-duty Orange County sheriff’s in Arizona spotted a standard-issue Navy backpack on the side of the freeway. It had “GM2 Booker” handwritten on a tag inside the bag.
It also had 18 explosives with the same lot number as the missing grenades.
Sailor admits that the bag was his
Booker later admitted it was his bag and that he’d driven that route, but claimed that the backpack had been stolen from him a year earlier.
Booker said he was upset about the theft because his GM pin was inside the stolen bag, but agents found the pin he had mentioned during a search of his home, the complaint said.
The next day, he directed authorities to Tijuana to search for the last two grenades. He said he knew two people connected to the “cartel” and that they had stolen the explosives.
It’s unclear if agents recovered the other explosives.