A Massachusetts man who authorities say adheres to anti-government extremist ideology and had allegedly purchased material that could be used to assemble explosives was arrested on Thanksgiving carrying a loaded firearm at an MBTA station in Boston.
Pepo Herd El, a convicted felon, was arrested Thursday night at the Ruggles MBTA Station and charged with illegally carrying a loaded pistol, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
The 47-year-old Dorchester resident was charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition at an initial court appearance, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said. El was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Dec. 2.
Authorities say El, who is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition due to a 2004 state conviction for possessing firearms without permits, had been under law enforcement surveillance prior to his arrest Thursday.
El is suspected of compiling chemicals that can be used to manufacture explosives, according to the criminal complaint. He also allegedly had purchased a firearm and body armor, Lelling said.
It's alleged that El took a bus from his Dorchester home to Ruggles in the early afternoon of Nov. 26. Once at the MBTA station, authorities say El was detained and searched during which law enforcement discovered El was in possession of a loaded pistol, three spare magazines that were also fully loaded, a knife and a bullet-proof vest, according to Lelling.
El was also wearing a security jacket, Lelling said, though he is not believed to work as a security guard.
If convicted, El could face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Beck and Benjamin Tolkoff of Lelling’s National Security Unit are prosecuting the case.
The investigation was conducted by FBI Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force with substantial assistance from the Boston Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
An investigation remains ongoing.