FBI task force targets leftover mines, grenades, cannonballs in Missouri

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 8:20 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Officials in Missouri said they’ve been receiving an increasing number of calls about leftover military ordnance, things like mines or grenades from wars in the past, that people have discovered at their properties.

This week, law enforcement have launched an operation to get rid of those items.

A cannonball from the early 1860s can still be powerful. It was used during the Civil War.

“As time passes, these items become less chemically stable, making them a public safety concern,” FBI special agent Spencer Evans said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found three of them in the depths of the Mississippi River during cleanup.

But Evans said these same military ordinances could very well be around your home or business.

Some of the common ones are claymore mines and grenades.

“We’re seeing this stuff people find in swap meets. You find it in your uncle’s basement. It’s something that’s been handed down for years,” Evans said.

The FBI’s Eastern Missouri Bomb Tech task force saw an increase in the number of calls about devices over the last six months - the reason they’re taking calls for a week and suiting up to get them into safety.

How does this stuff get here? Officials said in prior wars, they weren’t as strict with controls. Also, the things got lost or mistaken as inert.

When the call comes in, Brian Reimer with St. Charles Bomb Squad and his team examine it and put it in a specially designed box.

“We will take that down to the St. Louis County bomb range and counter charge it down there where we can do it safely,” he said.

If you discover one, leave it to the pros. While these artifacts may look cool to some, they can cause more harm than good.

“These are munitions that are designed to kill people. That’s pretty much their sole purpose and that’s what we’re trying to stop,” Reimer said.

The task force says its focus is public safety - not prosecuting anyone.

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