By Ralph Vartabedian
Times Staff Writer
November 2, 2006
A significantly larger amount of classified information from a nuclear
weapons laboratory in New Mexico was discovered in a residential trailer
during a police search on Oct. 17 than was disclosed by law enforcement
officials, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.
The search turned up a number of copies of classified documents from Los
Alamos National Laboratory in the trailer park where a former employee
Law enforcement officials last week had described finding only three
electronic storage devices, known as memory sticks or thumb drives,
inside the trailer. It was unclear whether the employee had knowingly
removed secret material and placed it on the drives.
The discovery of the documents heightened concerns that the removal of
classified information from the laboratory was not purely accidental,
according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because they
were not authorized to make public statements.
Spokesmen for the laboratory and the Department of Energy said they
would not comment about the classified documents, noting that the matter
was in the hands of the FBI.
An FBI spokesman in New Mexico said the agency did not comment on
But it was clear that federal officials had grown concerned about the
Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell and National Nuclear Security
Administration chief Linton F. Brooks went to Los Alamos this week to
assess the breach and oversee the administrative probe into how the
classified information was removed.
The facility has a long history of security and safety breaches. After
new management was installed by the Energy Department this year, top
officials had hoped the problems were solved. But the current incident
is "one of the utmost concern," according to lab director Michael
Despite plans to eliminate most, if not all, of the access that
employees have to transfer data from classified computers to removable
storage devices, a significant ability still exists to place documents
on disks and drives that can be taken from the lab, according to one
The existence of a larger amount of classified data at the trailer was
first disclosed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a watchdog group in Santa
Fe, which said it had obtained a detailed summary of a laboratory
Portions of the information were independently corroborated by The
The summary indicated that police had found 228 documents with
information printed on both sides, including classified intelligence and
The computer thumb drives contained 408 separate classified documents.
Those numbers could not be independently verified, but sources told The
Times it was a "large amount of information."
The documents originated in a classified data vault in the lab's dynamic
experiments division, which conducts tests on nuclear weapons
components, the summary said.
When Los Alamos police arrived at the trailer in response to neighbors'
report of a fight, they found Justin Stone, 20, who was wanted on a
probation violation, according to a police report.
Stone was hiding in the trailer owned by former laboratory archivist
Jessica Quintana, and agreed to come out only after police promised he
could smoke a cigarette before being placed under arrest.
A search of the trailer turned up a sizable amount of drug paraphernalia
associated with methamphetamine use, and the classified data. Stone
remains in custody.
Quintana, 22, later admitted to police that one of the glass drug pipes
was hers, according to the police report. She has not been charged.
Quintana's attorney, Stephen Aarons, told New Mexico newspapers that
Quintana did not know the significance of the information on the thumb
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
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