Camp Pendleton

U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson on Wednesday called for a General Accounting Office review of security and controls over ammunition and explosives at Camp Pendleton.

The California Republican made his statements after an hourlong tour of the Marine base's armory. The tour was arranged for Wilson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after a Marine ammunition handler and two San Francisco police officers were arrested for allegedly selling explosives and ammunition pilfered from Camp Pendleton.

"I was very impressed with the extensive protections and procedures that are in place," said Wilson, a former Marine Corps officer. "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 allegedly supplied 48 bars of C-4 plastic explosives, 30 hand grenades, 100 feet of detonation cord and 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the police officers, Howard Stevenson and Alejandro Serrano. They were arrested March 16 on suspicion of federal weapons law violations.

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

Media representatives were prevented from accompanying Wilson on his tour, but he said afterward that he had been shown each step of the ordnance management system and was impressed by the number of cross-checks that had been included and other measures taken to tighten security.

"It is my hope that the Rodriguez incident is an isolated incident, and I suspect that it is," Wilson said. "I'm not convinced it can't happen again. It is difficult to design a fail-safe system."

Wilson requested the GAO investigation in a letter sent Tuesday to the agency. The probe would be similar to one conducted in August at the Army base at Fort Bragg, N.C.

A Marine Corps spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment until after the GAO investigation and the legal proceedings against Rodriguez.

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