December 14, 2017
Louisiana Company Owner Pleads Guilty to the Improper Disposal of Ammunition
On December 14, 2017, David Alan Smith, co-owner of Explo Systems, Inc. (Explo), Minden, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Shreveport, for his role in defrauding the Federal Government on a munitions demilitarization contract with the U.S. Army. Smith was indicted on August 25, 2016.
Explo operated a bomb demilitarization and explosives recycling facility within the Louisiana National Guard facility at Camp Minden. In 2006, a series of at least 10 explosions at the Camp Minden facility caused an evacuation of the town of Doyline, shut down Interstate 20, and forced officials to move students to schools in a nearby town. In 2007, the Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Explo for its use of old Army explosives in mining operations in West Virginia, where a blast with “outdated deteriorated military ordnance” injured one worker and exposed others to toxins. On October 15, 2012, an explosion of M6 artillery propellants occurred at an Explo underground bunker at Camp Minden. During a post-incident investigation, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) discovered Explo was illegally storing over six million pounds of M6 propellant. As a result, Doyline was evacuated for approximately 1 week until enough of the M6 could be moved to allow reentry. In November 2012, a State search warrant was executed at the Explo facility, and the subsequent investigation revealed that approximately 100,000 pounds of TNT-contaminated materials and over 2,700 pounds of TNT-contaminated wastewater, known as “red/pink water,” had been stored in an unsecured warehouse.
As part of his guilty plea, Smith agreed that he conspired with others to defraud the United States by impeding Federal, State, and local authorities from properly monitoring the operations at Explo’s Camp Minden facility. He also agreed that he conspired with others to submit false end-use certificates to obtain money to which he was not entitled.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), U.S. Army Criminal Investigation, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and LSP Emergency Service Unit.