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Missing plastic explosives from Southern California base raise questions the Marines won’t answer

Naval Criminal Investigative Service seal (Naval Criminal Investigative Service/WikiCommons)

Military investigators are searching for 10 pounds of plastic explosives reported missing from a Southern California Marine Corps base, according to a report from 10 News.

Jeff Houston, a spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, confirmed in an email the agency was investigating but declined to answer several additional questions about the case.

“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on or confirm details relating to ongoing investigations,” Houston said.

The explosives are thought to have disappeared during training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms two weeks ago, according to the report. Marine officials declined to specify what units on the base had custody of the explosives or when they were last accounted for.

There is a reward for the return of the explosives, 10 News reported.

Marine officials at I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, declined to comment, as did a spokesman from Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico, Va. A spokesman for the base, located in the Mojave Desert just north of Joshua Tree National Park, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The missing explosives are 1.34 times as powerful as TNT. Plastic explosives are relatively stable compared to other explosives, have an indefinite shelf life and require a detonators to explode. About one pound of C-4 is powerful enough to destroy a car or truck, an explosives expert told 10 News.

The Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms is used for training by Marine units from both the west and east coasts. Photos recently published by the Defense Department show several units trained at the base in January, including the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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