On June 1, 2001, the night before Ray Schoppert Logging planned to begin cutting trees from the controversial Eagle Creek logging site, one of the company's trucks burst into flames. For five years, this patch of U.S. Forest Service property had been a main focus of environmentalists. They would sit in treetops, link arms to block logging roads, and otherwise peacefully protest the timber sale. One activist, Tre Arrow, even scaled the building in downtown Portland that houses the Forest Service and perched on a second-story ledge for 11 days. But the arson was a surprise attack; for authorities, it was a complete mystery.

But last Tuesday, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force--a collaboration between federal agents and local cops--indicted two Portland State University students, one local woman and Tre Arrow. Moreover, U.S. Attorney Michael Mosman, who is prosecuting the four suspects, has hinted that this single act of arson may be linked to others and to the secretive activist groups, Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

"Investigators have noted similarities in physical evidence found at the scene of the Schoppert fire and evidence found at the scene of the attack against Ross Island Sand and Gravel in Portland on April 15, 2001," reads the press release from U.S. Department of Justice. (On Easter morning 2001, three trucks from Ross Island were burned; a press release from ELF claimed responsibility for leaving a "gift," in what they termed the corporation's Easter baskets).

If convicted, each suspect could face as many as 80 years in federal prison and fines as large as one million dollars. The damage to the logging truck was estimated at $50,000; no one was harmed in the incident.

Two of the suspects were arrested immediately. A third, Angela Cesario, surrendered to police later that day. At press time, the fourth suspect, Michael Scarpitti (aka Tre Arrow) is still at large.

Attorneys representing the apprehended suspects have stated they are unclear what evidence the U.S. Attorney may have against their clients. It is believed that much of the evidence will be in the form of testimony--perhaps from other activists. For the past eight months, the U.S. attorney has sponsored grand jury hearings focusing on ELF, ALF and so-called acts of eco-terrorism. The trial is scheduled for October 16.