Wilson Calls for Review of Security at Camp Pendleton

From United Press International

Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) called Wednesday for a General Accounting Office review of security and controls over ammunition and explosives at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.

Wilson made his statements after an hourlong tour of the armory at the base in northern San Diego County.

The tour was arranged for Wilson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after a Marine ammunitions handler and two San Francisco police officers were arrested and charged with selling explosives and ammunition allegedly pilfered from Camp Pendleton.

Said Wilson, a former Marine Corps officer: "I was very impressed with the extensive protections and procedures that are in place. . . . I am convinced there are sufficient protections in place at Camp Pendleton to guard ammunition and explosives against external threats. However, in view of recent events, I'm not convinced controls are adequate to prevent insiders from stealing."

Cpl. Gustavo Rodriguez is accused of supplying 48 bars of C-4 plastic explosives, 30 hand grenades, 100 feet of detonation cord and 7,000 rounds of ammunition to San Francisco Police Officer Alejandro Serrano and to Howard Stevenson. The men were arrested on federal weapons charges March 17.

Rodriguez was an ammunitions handler who transported ordnance between the base storage facilities and various firing ranges and training areas.

Members of the media were not allowed to accompany Wilson on the tour. Wilson said afterward that he had been shown each step of the ordnance management system and was impressed by the number of cross-checks and other measures taken to ensure security.

"It is my hope that the Rodriguez incident is an isolated incident, and I suspect that it is," Wilson said.

Wilson requested the GAO investigation in a letter sent Tuesday to the agency.

A Marine Corps spokesman said after the tour that it would not be appropriate to comment until the GAO investigation is completed and the legal proceedings against Rodriguez are resolved.

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