Drug Bust Finds Classified LANL Documents

From the Albuquerque Journal 10.27.06

Drug Bust Finds Classified LANL Documents

Los Alamos Police recently found what may be classified documents from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) during a drug investigation at the mobile home trailer of Justin Stone in Los Alamos.

The police were originally called to the trailer on a report of domestic violence. Once inside they saw drug paraphernalia and began a more thorough search. At the trailer, the police found several glass pipes along with a backpack which held all the necessary equipment for a methamphetamine laboratory. Three computer memory flash drives were also discovered.

Stone stated in an interview with the "Los Alamos Monitor" that he exchanged methamphetamines for two of the flash drives with different individuals on two separate occasions. One flash drive he received too recently to have looked at what was stored on it. The other, Stone said, he received over a year ago and that he dimly recalled seeing LANL information about nuclear waste disposal.

The third, he said, belonged to Jessica Quintana, a former LANL sub-contractor employee, who resides in trailer. Quintana had been employed as a data entry clerk at Information Assets Management. According to its website, the company "provides highly secure knowledge management services and solutions to businesses and governments." Information Assets Management has refused to comment on the case.

LANL has had multiple instances of high profile security problems in the past decade. The first involved nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee, who, in 2000, pled guilty to mishandling computer files. He was freed after nine months in solitary confinement and a federal judge apologized for his treatment by the government. LANL has also been investigated by the FBI for credit card fraud. And only two years ago, in 2004, operations were almost entirely shut down after inventory showed that two disks containing classified nuclear information were missing. These disks were never found, however, operations resumed because the Department of Energy (DOE) decided that the disks had never existed in the first place.

The discovery of these documents and the involvement of LANL secrets with drug deals raises serious questions about the effectiveness of LANL's new security program. Following the discovery, DOE official Linton Brooks, issued a statement saying he has dispatched a cyber security team to LANL to ensure that there is full compliance with DOE security requirements. However, given LANL's history, community groups remain concerned that LANL will not be held accountable for this security breach.

Security issues are of serious concern throughout the DOE complex. Earlier this year it was discovered that hackers had broken into the computer network at a DOE site in Albuquerque and gained access to personnel information. And more recently, DOE acknowledged that it could not meet its own post-September 11 security standards to protect a Tennessee facility from a terrorist threat. This facility stores an estimated 189 metric tons of bomb-grade material. In response, DOE gave itself an extension of time to comply.

Joni Arends of CCNS said, "This case shows us the underbelly of DOE's nuclear weapons complex. Before Congress funds any new facilities and expanded plutonium pit production at LANL, it must order a full investigation."

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