I-15 may be shut down again as officials detonate more powerful explosives
By Miriam Raftery
November 20, 2010 (Escondido) – More than nine pounds of Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD), a powerful explosive used in suicide bombings and terrorist plots including the planned Millennium bombing in L.A., have been discovered by authorities at an Escondido home.
George Jakubec, 54, a renter at the property in the 1900 block of Via Scott in Escondido’s unincorporated area, has been arrested and is being held on $100,000 bail. A gardener who stepped on explosive material Thursday was seriously injured, prompting authorities to search the property. After discovering a massive cache of explosives, bomb squad members buried the explosive materials and shut down I-15 Friday afternoon as a precaution while the devices were detonated.
Authorities are still on site and will remain there tomorrow, Lt. Dave Brown with the San Diego Sheriff’s office told East County Magazine tonight.
Mason jars containing HMTD were found in the backyard and home. “It’s like a witch’s brew inside there,” Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell told media. Caldwell called nine pounds a “very significant amount” and said the landscaper, Mario Garcia, was lucky to be alive. Garcia suffered serious injuries to his arm and an eye after scuffing his foot on the ground, activating compound spilled there.
Caldwell has indicated that the freeway may be shut down again to allow for destruction of additional materials.
HMTD is an unstable compound that can be set off by friction or heat, making it very dangerous to manufacture. It also reacts with most common metals, which can cause it to detonate. It can be mixed with other chemicals to produce massive explosions. Just one bottle of HMTD mixed with hydrogen peroxide and citric acid is capable of blowing a hole in an airplane hull.
Terrorist suspects arrested for plotting to blow up 10 airplanes traveling from the United Kingdom to the U.S. and Canada in 2006 were found to have HMTD at their residences. The substance has also been widely used in suicide bombings around the world. Ahmed Ressam, the Al-Qaeda Millennium Bomber, planned to use HMTD in a foiled plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve in 1999, the New York Times reported.
Authorities have not released information on why Jakubec had such powerful explosives at the residence he was renting.
According to ECM news partner 10 News, Via Telecom’s corporate attorney, Justin Shrenger, said that Jakubec was fired from the company after failing to show up for work. The company filed suit against Jakubec, demanding return of over $3,000 in what the company has said were overpayments.
Jakubec faces arraignment Monday in Vista.