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September 10, 2021: Two Women Convicted of Railroad Sabotage

A jury has convicted two women of intentionally sabotaging railroad tracks near the United States/Canada border. Ellen Brennan Reiche, 28, and Samantha Frances Brooks, 24, were convicted of violence against a railroad carrier. Both women are facing up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
On the evening of November 28, 2020, the women were seen on video surveillance on BNSF tracks near Bellingham. When deputies detained them, they found the women to be carrying a paper bag with wire, a drill and magnetic adhesive inside. Shortly thereafter, deputies found a shunt buried under rocks on the tracks nearby. The women were part of a group that is using shunts to slow the delivery of oil and supplies in protest of a natural gas pipeline across Indigenous land in British Columbia. A shunt is designed to disrupt the low level electrical current on the tracks and can disable various safety features.
U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said “Since January, there have been 41 incidents of shunts placed on the BNSF tracks in Whatcom and Skagit counties…causing crossing guards to malfunction, interfering with automatic braking systems, and, in one case, causing the near-derailment of tanks of hazardous chemicals. These crimes endanger our community. I commend the agents from Customs and Border Protection, FBI, BNSF Police, and state and local partners who prioritized stopping this criminal [terrorist] conduct.”

2nd woman convicted of railroad track sabotage in Washington

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