Earth Liberation Front

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

For years, American law enforcement officials have been trying to solve a series of environmental crimes. The crimes are linked to a group known as the Earth Liberation Front. The group claims responsibility for hundreds of acts of destruction in the United States during the past five years. The destruction has caused more than thirty million dollars worth of damage.

Federal investigators say they are finally closer to solving the crimes. Recently, a seventeen-year-old student reportedly admitted setting a series of fires in the state of New York. He was charged in connection with acts of damage believed to be carried out by the Earth Liberation Front. The student is the son of a New York City police officer. He reportedly made the admission during a secret court hearing. As part of a deal, the student agreed to cooperate with officials investigating the Earth Liberation Front. He could face up to twenty years in prison.

This is the first time that a member of the group has admitted being responsible for environmental crimes linked to the Earth Liberation Front. Three other suspects in the property attacks were negotiating with federal officials.

Since Nineteen-Ninety-Six, members of the group have claimed to have damaged or burned hundreds of new homes, tree-cutting companies, federal offices and animal and plant research laboratories. They say their goal is to stop development and other activities they consider harmful to nature. They say their property attacks are aimed at industry and rich people who profit from the destruction of the natural environment.

The Earth Liberation Front says it will use any direct action necessary to carry out its goals. But it says it is opposed to harming animals or humans. Traditional environmental groups in the United States reject the group's methods.

The Earth Liberation Front includes environmental extremists who operate independently of each other. Federal investigators say their lack of structure has made them difficult to stop. And they say the group usually leaves very little evidence behind.

A few weeks ago, the group claimed responsibility for burning several new homes in Mount Sinai, New York. It has also claimed responsibility for destructive acts in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Wisconsin.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English