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Two Animal Rights Activists Arrested in Oakland for Nationwide Spree

On Friday, two animal rights activists who allegedly traveled around the country in 2013 setting over 5,600 mink free from ranches and vandalizing stores selling furs and others distributing meat were arrested by the FBI in Oakland.

Joseph Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28, both of whom hail from Oakland, allegedly traveled 40,000 miles between June and December 2013 releasing the mink from ranches as afar west as Idaho and as far east as Pennsylvania, with other stops in Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, causing over $100,000 in damage.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in San Francisco, said the couple surrendered without incident; they were charged with one count of conspiring to violate the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in San Diego issued the indictment, which stated that the pair allegedly posted manifestos about their actions during their journey. The U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego said prosecutors want the couple to be returned to San Diego to face the charges.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu released both activists on a $100,000 unsecured bond and ordered electronic monitoring; Buddenberg was to be restricted to his residence until the pair saw Ryu again next Tuesday.

The FBI in San Diego stated:

… the unemployed defendants sold items on eBay and Amazon to finance their trips. To avoid detection by law enforcement, the defendants withdrew large sums of cash from their bank accounts immediately before setting off on a road trip. During the trips, they largely avoided the use of phones, used only cash for purchases and stopped logging in to known online accounts and e-mail. Instead, they used public Internet computers and encrypted e-mail. Once they returned from the trips, they resumed normal use of phones and computers and no longer relied solely on cash to make purchases.

Among the crimes the pair allegedly committed were setting free a bobcat from a Montana fur farm; vandalizing Furs By Graf, a fur store in San Diego, as well as the homes of its current and previous owners; slashing “multiple tires on multiple vehicles of a wholesale meat distributor in the San Francisco Bay Area”; and gluing locks of some San Francisco-area animal enterprises.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of San Diego asserted, “The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue.”

The pair could face 10 years in prison.

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