Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homeland Security: Arizona man indicted and arrested for production and use of chemical weapons.

A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Todd Russell Fries, aka Todd Burns, of Tucson, for allegedly producing and using chemical weapons. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Fries earlier this morning, and he is detained pending his appearance before a federal Magistrate Judge. Fries, 48, faces felony charges of prohibition against chemical weapons, according to the indictment unsealed this morning.

“This defendant developed and executed a chlorine gas attack that impacted an entire neighborhood and had the potential to cause tremendous harm and fear,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “I commend our partners at the FBI for their diligence on this case, and we expect justice to be served.”

Robert C. Rudge, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Division, added, “Today’s indictment and arrest of Todd Fries illustrates the commitment by the FBI to protect the public from those who allegedly possess and use chemical weapons. Whenever a person chooses to use dangerous chemicals as a weapon, it puts the entire community at risk. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are working collectively to protect the citizens of Arizona.”

The indictment alleges that on August 2, 2009, Fries placed chemical devices in the front and back yard of a couple living on the northwest side of Tucson. When ignited, the devices produced a football field-sized cloud of chlorine gas that hovered over the neighborhood and resulted in the evacuation of numerous families in the area.

A conviction for prohibition against chemical weapons carries a penalty of prison time, a $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, the District Court Judge who presides over the case will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI. The prosecution is being handled by Beverly K. Anderson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.

United States Attorney's Office
District of Arizona