North Van international fugitive surrenders to FBI

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, surrendered herself to the FBI Nov. 29. - Submitted photo
Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, surrendered herself to the FBI Nov. 29.
— image credit: Submitted photo

A North Vancouver woman at the centre of the largest eco-terrorism case in United States history turned herself in Thursday, ending more than a decade on the run as an international fugitive.

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, 39, surrendered herself to the FBI at the Peace Arch border crossing to face several charges in her alleged connection to violent attacks carried out by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

Those charges include federal arson, destructive device and conspiracy charges spanning Oregon, Colorado and California.

As recently as 2010, Rubin was thought by U.S. authorities to have returned to Canada and possibly be living in the Nelson, B.C. area. Until her surrender, Rubin had been the subject of a $50,000 reward for information leading to her capture.

In Oregon, Rubin is charged with being one of 13 people suspected of involvement in 20 acts of arson, spanning five years (1996-2001) and five Western states, committed by self-proclaimed members of ELF and ALF.

The charges include Rubin's alleged participation in the November 30, 1997 arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County, Oregon and the December 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford, Oregon, according to an FBI press release Thursday.

An indictment against the groups says the ELF and ALF sought to influence and affect the conduct of government, private business, and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means.

A Colorado federal indictment charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the October 19, 1998 fires that caused millions of dollars in damage and destroyed buildings at the Vail ski area in Colorado.

A California indictment charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in the October 15, 2001 fire at the Bureau of Land Management's Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, California.

In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from 156 months to 37 months after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson. Two other defendants, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker, remain at large as international fugitives, according to the FBI.

Each count of arson and attempted arson carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, up to a maximum of 20 years. Use of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison. Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Each count in the three indictments carries a potential fine of up to $250,000.

The ELF-ALF conspiracy case (Operation Backfire) was jointly investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Justice, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eugene Police Department and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted in Oregon by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen F. Peifer.

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