Fugitive U.S. radical nabbed

The Globe and Mail/March 15, 2004

Victoria -- A fugitive U.S. radical environmentalist, charged with setting fire to logging and cement trucks in 2001, has been arrested in Victoria.

Michael Scarpitti was arrested Saturday for allegedly trying to shoplift some bolt-cutters, said Robert Jordan, the FBI's special agent in charge in Portland, Ore.

Mr. Scarpitti has been on the FBI's most-wanted list since disappearing two years ago and has been connected to the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy group that has claimed responsibility for dozens of crimes over the last several years.

The FBI lists the ELF as its No. 1 domestic terrorism priority.

Mr. Scarpitti was struggling with security at a Canadian Tire store Saturday when police arrived.

"Upon taking him back to police headquarters it would appear he had no identification on him and refused to co-operate with the police in regard to identifying himself," Constable Rick Anthony of the Victoria Police told reporters Monday.

City police first contacted people who knew the man, then spoke to immigration officials who checked his fingerprints and confirmed his identity.

Local charges against him are theft, assault and obstructing a police officer.

He appeared in Victoria provincial court Monday and was being held on an immigration warrant.

Mr. Jordan said the FBI did not know how long Mr. Scarpitti has been in Canada and the agency is working with Canadian authorities on Mr. Scarpitti's extradition to Oregon.

An official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the fugitive would "quite likely" be taken before a hearing where his removal would be sought.

"He does have a criminal record and of course it's our intention to remove him," Jim Redmond said.

Mr. Scarpitti, also known as Tre Arrow, is among four activists charged with setting logging trucks on fire June 1, 2001, to protest against logging on the slopes of Mount Hood.

Three other suspects were captured after one of them told a girlfriend about the crime, arrest papers said. The girlfriend's father is a deputy state fire marshal.

Mr. Scarpitti is also accused of taking part in an April 15, 2001 arson attack that damaged three cement trucks at Ross Island Sand & Gravel in Portland.

Mr. Scarpitti first gained notoriety in July 2000 when he scaled a U.S. Forest Service building in downtown Portland and lived on a ledge for 11 days to protest against timber policies.

In October 2001, he suffered several broken bones when he fell 18 metres from a hemlock tree where he had perched to protest against a logging sale in Oregon's Tillamook County.

On June 1 of that year arsonists firebombed trucks at Schoppert Logging Co. in Estacada, a small town between Portland and Mount Hood.

Three suspects were arrested. One of them, Jacob Sherman, was sentenced to more than three years in prison in 2003 after pleading guilty.

Court documents filed by Sherman's lawyer identified Tre Arrow as "the leader and instigator" of the arsons.

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